Pena Nieto to Expand Drug War, Debate Drug Legalization

Mexico’s president-elect will broaden the nation’s campaign against drug trafficking-related violence and would discuss the legalization of drugs, he said in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“Our new strategy is to adjust what’s been done up until now,” said Enrique Pena Nieto, who won election July 1, according to an e-mailed transcript of the interview, to be broadcast today. “Personally, I’m not in favor of legalizing drugs. However, let’s open up a new debate, a review, in which the U.S. plays a fundamental role in conducting this review.”

More than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon began an offensive against cartels in December 2006. Pena Nieto named General Oscar Naranjo, the former head of Colombia’s national police, as his security adviser last month.

The 45-year-old Pena Nieto must balance public demands for a less-bloody conflict with suspicions that his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was more tolerant of drug cartels during a 71-year rule that ended in 2000. Pena Nieto, who pledged during the campaign to scale back the military’s role in fighting organized crime in favor of the police, said July 2 that there would be no truce with the cartels.

U.S. Immigration Laws

Pena Nieto also said U.S. immigration laws are “discriminatory.” He said Mexico needs greater economic development to make emigration from the nation a choice rather than a necessity.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down much of Arizona’s law designed to combat illegal immigration, ruling that states must defer to the federal government on immigration policy. Other states, including Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah and Indiana, have passed similar laws, which may be undercut by the Arizona ruling.

“It seems to me that these are discriminatory laws that don’t recognize the contribution and the value of millions of immigrants, particularly from my country, who make enormous contributions to the United States’ economic development,” Pena Nieto said.

In addition to energy and labor changes, Pena Nieto said he will work to overhaul the nation’s tax system,

“Another one of the great structural reforms that I have committed to and which I propose to carry out is a treasury reform, which would allow fairer taxation, simplified tax code, and to broaden the tax base, which would strengthen the country’s public finances.”

Mexico’s economy will expand 3.7 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2013, according to the median estimate in a survey of economists released July 5 by Citigroup Inc.’s Banamex unit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catarina Saraiva in Washington at asaraiva5@bloomberg.net

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