Mex­i­can pres­i­dent to be tough on drugs

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Kather­ine cor­co­ran

MEX­ICO CITY — Newly elected Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto says he will con­tinue fight­ing il­le­gal drug pro­duc­tion and traf­fick­ing in Mex­ico, in­clud­ing mar­i­juana, de­spite its le­gal­iza­tion in two U.S. states and lib­er­al­ized use for med­i­cal pur­poses in oth­ers.

In an in­ter­view late Mon­day on goals for his new ad­min­is­tra­tion, Peña Ni­eto was asked if votes to le­gal­ize recre­ational use of mar­i­juana in Washington state and Colorado would make him re­think Mex­ico’s drug-war pol­icy.

“The short an­swer is no,” said Peña Ni­eto, who added that he re­mains per­son­ally op­posed to le­gal­iza­tion. “My government will con­tinue mount­ing a real fight against the traf­fick­ing of mar­i­juana and all other drugs.”

He has pro­posed fo­cus­ing on re­duc­ing vi­o­lence in Mex­ico rather than cap­tur­ing top drug lords, a change from his pre­de­ces­sor, Felipe Calderon. Many have viewed that as a sig­nal that as long as drug gangs don’t at­tack civil­ians, they would be left alone.

Mur­der, ex­tor­tion and kid­nap­ping sky­rock­eted un­der Calderon, with some es­ti­mates reach­ing 60,000 drug-re­lated killings dur­ing his six-year term. Top Peña Ni­eto cam­paign aide Luis Vide­garay, now sec­re­tary of the trea­sury, said in Novem­ber that the U.S. le­gal­iza­tion votes would com­pli­cate Mex­ico’s anti-drug ef­forts.

But Peña Ni­eto said his government “in no way will aban­don the fight.” He said he is com­mit­ted to a united front against or­ga­nized crime, bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion among lo­cal, state and fed­eral po­lice forces and com­plet­ing the over­haul of Mex­ico’s jus­tice sys­tem.

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