The Globe and Mail’s Marina Jiménez interviews Enrique Pena Nieto, the front-runner in Mexico’s presidential campaign and a candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). She spoke with him in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche.
How do you want to deepen the Mexico-Canada relationship?
Marina, I aspire to, and that’s part of my agenda, that the relationship with North America – as much with the U.S. as with Canada – can escalate and go further than our commercial relationship. There is an opportunity to consolidate the North American region as a more competitive region, a more productive region that will be more competitive than other blocs that have integrated in the rest of the world. That is the agenda I will try to promote and I hope to find agreement with the Canadian and U.S. governments.
How do you want to deepen the democratic reforms that the ruling National Action Party (PAN) hasn’t been able to?
To strengthen democracy, it depends on results and the benefits you deliver. If not, there is disenchantment. People have become disenchanted and we have to end that. The PRI has the political strength and the social backing to bring about the structural reforms the country needs. The right has already shown it is not capable of doing it, and the left has pronounced that it doesn’t want to do it.
As a politician, is it hard to be taken seriously when you’re so handsome?
Really, we have to get past those frivolities. My interest is to establish an agenda of engagement with Mexicans that will respond to Mexicans’ most urgent needs. They demand economic growth, security and health and for all Mexicans. Those are the main topics I have been proposing.
Can Canada help Mexico address the problem of narco-violence and drug trafficking?
This is a problem that should concern the whole North American region, especially our relationship with the U.S., the country with which we share a border. Nevertheless, the purpose of having this bloc is to help make the three countries more competitive together and more productive and that will help improve public security. Public-security needs should be shared by the three countries.
What can be done for the PRI to reach agreements with the other parties in Congress so labour reforms and banking reforms can be passed?
There is no doubt a president has to govern for everyone. I have to accomplish – or have the capacity through politics to make it an instrument to accomplish – agreements that get us to the reforms that the country really needs. This campaign is one of respect for the other contenders. If I’m the president, I will call in all the different political opinions to come together and to make one front to the benefit of Mexico.
You already have experience with governing the state of Mexico. What was the biggest challenge of your career as state governor?
It has been marked by various moments. Without doubt the event of Atenco was a highlight because it was at the beginning of my term. I decided I had to use public force legitimately to re-establish order in the area of Atenco [referring to a protest in 2006 in which police were called in; two protesters died and women were assaulted by police] [Also difficult]was the flooding that unfortunately Mexico state experiences. The government didn’t manage to control the problem because it is the responsibility of the Mexico City or federal government. So we are always affected as the state.
Is there a strong PRI for this country?
The PRI ... gives hope to the great majority of Mexicans. We are an option and I assume that with great responsibility. There should be more democracy among Mexicans and we have to ensure the democracy has better results. I have to accomplish this condition for democracy, more citizen competition and more stability, and that will strengthen our regime.
Is it fair that in Mexico, one cell-phone company dominates [TelCel representing 70 per cent of the market]
I am in favour of competition in telephone, telecommunications. My government will promote competition in every sector.
With files from Reuters