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11/06/2012 | Mecico. Enrique Peña Nieto - Priorities in Mexico’s Drug War

NYTimes Staff

The following are excerpts from an interview with Enrique Peña Nieto, a former governor of Mexico State who is the front-running candidate in the July 1 presidential election in Mexico. The interview was conducted in Spanish last week and translated by The New York Times.


On priorities in the drug war:

“The adjustment in the strategy is to focus on decreasing violence. And that means that the whole Mexican state, jointly between the three levels of government — state, federal and municipal — should really focus its efforts on combating homicide and the impunity that is a given in many of the homicides committed, as with kidnapping and extortion.”

On improving policing, including adding a gendarmerie and expanding the federal police force to supplement small, poorly equipped local police forces.

“Many times it’s there, in these places with the lowest populations, where organized crime hides, as there is no police that can really fulfill its duty to the best because the institutions are too weakened. There are too few police, sometimes without equipment, without weapons, and organized crime, with the level of sophistication in which it operates, ends up easily getting there and taking over these places with small populations.”

On building trustworthy justice institutions:

“Today we know of a great number of detentions, but it is not equal to the number of convictions of people that we presume committed a crime. Consequently, we have to strengthen this whole chain — we have to attain complete rule of law — and that doesn’t happen by decree, nor by good will. It’s a constant for the Mexican state, the strengthening of institutions. That will really allow us to have better results.”

On the need to push through stalled money-laundering laws in congress:

“I think money laundering is giving oxygen to organized crime. And what we must do is ensure that with this tool that the state will have, in the new legislation to combat money laundering, allows the state to act more efficiently.”

On going after Joaquín Guzmán, known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty,” the most-wanted drug trafficker in Mexico:

“The commitment is to give security to the people. The commitment is to reduce violence, and the commitment is also to combat effectively and to capture those who act outside of the law. El Chapo and any other criminal — the state is obviously there to go after them and subject them to the law.”

On the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s reputation for corruption:

“I can’t single out my party. In all parties there are regrettable cases that have tarnished the institutions represented by certain actors. Therefore, it’s necessary to strengthen the state through public entities like the one I’ve proposed, the National Anticorruption Commission, to combat corruption. The state is obliged to fight corruption within the government. Today there are different mechanisms that are dedicated to this objective, but without a doubt, they aren’t sufficient. I have been proposing a national auditing system for the three levels of government, strengthening the Institute for Information and Protection of Data precisely to give more powers within these entities and municipalities to really attain more transparency and a better accountability.”

On whether he has smoked marijuana or consumed any other illicit drug:

“Never ever. I say it categorically. And I would undergo any test if there were any I could. I am willing to undergo any test.”

On not being able to name three books that have made a mark on his life, a question that caused a social-media sensation when he could not fully answer at a book fair in December:

“I wouldn’t pick one in particular. Back then, when they asked me that same question. I said, thinking which books, I pointed out the Bible as one of the first texts I read, and I think reading various books undoubtedly leaves you knowledge, lessons. I wouldn’t point out, or wouldn’t let one book in particular mark me. Maybe, more focused on my childhood, the Bible. After that it has been the forming of broader knowledge by reading many books — the ones I read during my college years, the ones during my postgraduate time and the ones I read on a regular basis.”

On the movies “J. Edgar,” about the megalomaniacal FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and “The Departed,” about Boston mobsters.

“Lately the one I’ve been seeing in bits and parts is “Edgar Hoover.” Very good, by the way. ... I was drawn to it, and the truth is, well, it’s interesting. I recommend it. I’m probably halfway through. ... I also like comedies. ... Ah, “The Departed” is really good.”

NY Times (Estados Unidos)


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