Mexican president to be tough on drugs
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.