July 8th, 2012
08:27 AM ET

Mexico's Peña Nieto calls for 'new debate' on the drug war

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET

Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto called for a "new debate" on the drug war and said the United States must play an important role in that discussion.

The presumptive president-elect spoke this week to Fareed Zakaria in an interviewing airing on this week's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

"Yes, I do believe we should open up a new debate regarding how to wage war on drug trafficking. Personally, I'm not in favor of legalizing drugs. I'm not persuaded by that as an argument. However, let's open up a new debate, a review, in which the U.S. plays a fundamental role in conducting this review," said Peña Nieto.

More than 47,500 people have died in drug-related violence since Felipe Calderon, Mexico's current president, made combating cartels a top priority when he took office in 2006.

Peña Nieto has pledged to focus more on reducing violence and less on catching cartel leaders and blocking drugs from reaching the United States.

"What we seek now in our new strategy is to adjust what's been done up until now. It's not a radical change. It's to broaden the coverage and above all, the emphasis I aspire to of reducing the violence in our country," he told Zakaria.

"I'm persuaded that if we achieve the specialization in the work carried out by the various branches of the federal police and the inspector general's office, waging war on impunity will allow us to combat crime," he said.

The presumptive president-elect also weighed in on Arizona's immigration law, which allows police to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the United States illegally.

The controversial provision was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It struck down other parts of the law.

"Clearly, 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. It's clear to me that Mexico must facilitate conditions for greater economic development through structural reforms, energy reforms, treasury reform, labor reform, in order to generate jobs and greater opportunities in my country, so that immigration is a decision and not a necessity for Mexicans," he said.

An official tally of returns Friday confirmed Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, as the winner of Mexico's presidential election.

Final tally confirms PRI victory in Mexico

But until the country's electoral tribunal ratifies the results - and challenges are virtually assured - he remains the presumptive president-elect.

Peña Nieto's closest rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has vowed to challenge the results, accusing the PRI of vote-buying, and said that he would take his complaints through the legal system.

The federal electoral tribunal, known as TRIFE, will begin to accept complaints Monday of voting irregularities.

The tribunal will have until September 6 to complete its investigation and ratify - or reverse - the official election results. The new president will be sworn in December 1.

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Topics: GPS Show • Mexico

soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Try to stay alert

    btw CNN, thanks for making stories like this one hard to find... while at the same time keeping stories over a week old in the top headlines...noticed you even ran a story that was over 6 months old this weekend. Awww, I remember the days when CNN was actually a 24/7 news organization... I bet Ted is upset he sold out to a bunch of lazy reporters.

    July 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  2. Martin

    I live in the border, am a resident of Laredo, TX, and have lived in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico for about more than 15 years. And let me tell you, I might not now too much about Mexico's politic history, but I know enough to say Enrique Pena Nieto and his Politic Party which is the PRI, are not the best there is to govern this country. It is desperate to see how there's tons of evidence of how dirty his campaign was, and no authority was there to stop them. Since they are the "authority" in a way... Having Enrique Pena Nieto as the next Mexican President is like having Nixon run the Country once more... and I know we don't want that to happen again...

    July 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  3. Andrew


    July 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  4. Mike D

    Hope Mexico enjoy another 20 years of dictatorship.

    Of course he's not in favor legalization. Do you know what the "actual" GDP of mexico would drop to if drugs where no longer legal, and no longer a huge revenue stream for that country?

    July 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  5. Dani

    Any reason for not publishing my views expressed in my submission of yesterday ?

    July 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  6. max3333444555

    What is most interesting to me is that, once again, we have seen our american politicians fail us. instead of an american leading the way towards new approaches we have to wait until it is brought forth by someone else. if we follow the normal pattern, we will simply ignore it or pretend to be involved and stick with what we have done for decades.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  7. Eduardo leal Cardenas

    First of I would like to add that this person is not the person we elected as president, Mexico has a history of presidents taking power not by majority but by minority; only 14% of the population vote..... On this election theire was a 65% turn out vote and I can safely say it was because we did not want EPN to be president...... The rest of the word laughs but us the Mexicans that live here.... We are scared......

    July 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  8. revelations 13:7

    bought-and-paid for by the mexican drug cartels, who happen to be bought-and-paid for by Obama & Co....

    July 10, 2012 at 12:10 am | Reply
  9. Walter Dominguez

    Why is this reporter calling Enrique Peña Nieto "Mexico's President"? the IFE has not pronounced him as Mexico's new president. Why didn't Zakaria questioned him about the vote-buying allegations? This is a very important moment in Mexico and transparency from news media is imperative.

    July 10, 2012 at 12:21 am | Reply
  10. Gina

    SHAME ON YOU FAREED as a journalist you get to know what is happening all over the world firsthand, therefore you know perfectly what is going on in Mexico, interviewing this impostor and calling him the "elected president" of Mexico is disrrespectfull to the people of Mexico and makes you as corrupt as he is and also makes you a pseudo journalist misinforming your audience, I insist SHAME ON YOU

    July 10, 2012 at 2:18 am | Reply
    • Gina

      I am a total idiot. I thought that if I stole Gina's moniker that I might sound as smart as her. Instead I come off sounding like an idiot and backwards. I hate myself because I recognize how absolutely moronic I sound. I apologizer profusely to Gina and I will try not to steal another moniker although it is in my nature. SHAME ON ME!!

      July 10, 2012 at 8:11 am | Reply
  11. Chig

    Illegalmdrugs generate cash, and cash is power in every nation and market. Traditional methods in both countries have fallen short, it is time to find a new and better solution to the problem. By not doing so both governments are sending a message that in reality they do not want to solve the problems. History shows that if there's demand there will always be supply!! Bottom line: market and profit have been and continue to be the main motivators of actions!

    July 10, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply
  12. genarorg

    This interview is a joke. We live a new generation of civil war, some parts of mexico should be declared war zones, and no one seems to acknowledge it. If this were happening in the united states the tone of this interview would have been much more serious. It is clear that this so called new president does not have a solid plan to end this, or at least pave the way to a resolution.

    July 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  13. Karla

    Why are they not broadcasting the huge anti-peña nieto marches that are going on!?

    People are now talking about a revolution!

    July 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  14. clearick

    We shouldn't need a Mexican leader to tell us what we already know, that the War on Drugs is an abject FAILURE. So while he may not be persuaded that legalization isn't the answer, I'd like to hear what possible changes he could make that would turn this venture into a success!

    The US shouldn't make Marijuana use illegal. There is no legal basis for doing so, as it was provisionally placed on Schedule 1 even though it meets none of the criteria for being classified that way. As such it is an arbitrary capricious abuse of power by the US government that turns a common weed into a felony! Anyone studying the subject will find that the reason Marijuana was made illegal had nothing to do with the drug or it's affects, but economic concerns. The paper companies lobbied heavily to make it illegal because they were concerned about a new process to denature hemp and make it into paper, which would have cost the Paper companies millions in land holdings!

    Today money interests still keep the drug illegal. Look at how much money the US spends on policing it, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, Judges, prison owners and the guards....all of these people paid for by the public, millions of dollar each year to find prosecute and jail people for smoking a plant as opposed to legally drinking alchohol.

    Americans have to realize that sometimes the Government does stupid things, usually to serve some special interest at the rest of our expense. Do you really want to pay police and lawyers and fat-cat private prison owners to put your fellow citizens in jail!? Is that really an intelligent way to spend your tax dollars? If everyone in the US decided to smoke marijuana and were allowed to, what would happen? NOTHING, they'd get stoned and continue to live and pay takes and go to work! So why make it illegal?

    Guess what would happen if it was legalized and taxed... instead of wasting millions of dollars doing things we neither need or want, instead farmers would have a new cash crop, not just for smoking, but for fiber, it makes an excellent paper and also serves as an excellent feed stock for ethanol- much easier to grow than corn in much poorer soil. Seen from an economic standpoint and a social standpoint it's a no brainer to legalize this and not one leader in either political party even discusses the issue!

    July 12, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
  15. TopView20

    We do NOT need more debate. There is no effective war on drugs. If law enforcement was serious, we could stop all immigration from Mexico and Central/South American nations. Secondly, we could intensify our border patrol activities. Third, law enforcement should target the greatest source of drug diversion, which is doctor´s offices and clinics throughout the USA. No politician will implement these three essential stategies. They play a shell game with resources and funds, and use international news stories as diversionary tactics. The USA has never committed to fighting or winning the "war on drugs." Therefore, we will always fail in a profound manner!

    July 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  16. Joe M.

    Mexicans know what that statement means, coming out of the PRI – it means "If the drug gangs pay me and my party enough money, I'll stop going after them"

    July 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  17. andy J

    I like how to the Mexicans, the answer is to stop or change the way they enforce the law, not that there is a problem of people actually breaking the law, personal accountability, or a willingness to stand up and take on criminal gangs. How their President is critical of Arizona's law, saying that immigrants who knowingly broke the U.S.'s immigration laws benefits the U.S , is a good example of how subjective the concept of rule of law is to their culture.

    July 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  18. Gerardo

    One of the most prominent PRI leaders in Mexico said one week before the election. The PRI and his candidate Enrique Pena Nieto will easily win the election or at least with broad margin, mainly because the war against the drug cartels waged by the Fox and Calderon regimens, the increment of poor people in Mexico, and the economy's slow progress in the past 12 years, and he quote "we have the perfect storm," And even if all the things used as strong arguments by PRI and his leaders .why did they spend millions and millions of us dlls to buy the election cards from the pepople??? (500 pesos to 1,000 pesos) Specially from the poor people before the election and a super sofisticated electoral machinery the day of the election. But the question is was the war against the cartels good or bad? According to Mexicans it was a good thing because more than 45,000 cartel members are dead or in jail! how about Fast and the Furious, have we forgotten about it??? Let's see what Pena Nieto and his PRI can do for Mexico in the next 6 years, nothing but promises have been heard, let's see how it turns out...

    July 14, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  19. TxArmadillo

    The root cause of the drug cartel violence is demand for drugs in the US. We in the US can stop the violence if we want.

    There are two fundamental facts that we need to accept. One is that the demand for drugs is resistant to change; a drug addict does not think rationally, and consequently is willing to incur substantial risk and hardship in order to acquire drugs. The other is that it is impossible to physically prevent the smuggling of drugs into the US to a meaningful extent.

    The solution is to deter people from selling or importing drugs in the US. Deterrence can be established by executing several thousand drug traffickers and in the US every month. After only a few months of executions, large numbers of drug traffickers would decide to get out of the business.

    July 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  20. Cris Gonzalez

    CNN you are totally sold to portray media in whatever it is that you are told..... this interview made headlines globally cause of how bad Pena Nieto looked especially for his extremely long pauses in the middle of sentences and how it looks like he is reading it off and his is being dicated and plus you guys changed what he said around. he insists to continue using the same strategy that Calderon has. This is a shame for Mexico and you do not help out at all, remember social medias are stronger than ever and justice will win in Mexico. SHAME ON YOU CNN.............. nobody writes about how many protest have broken out in Mexico since his supposed winning of the election, which are the real news in Mexico.

    July 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  21. Jordan

    As long as there exists a large demand for drugs in the US there will be a supply from Mexico, it is as simple as that. The real war on drugs is a social problem.

    July 15, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  22. Steve

    Let me know when Mexico gets one honest President until then they shut the FCK UP.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
  23. david

    the whole interview was scripted and read off a teleprompter, watch the interview on youtube watch this fraud pena neito new puppet dog to the u.s struggle with the script

    August 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Reply
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    August 6, 2012 at 10:10 am | Reply
  25. octopus

    Calderone killed over 40000 people. why is he still free?

    August 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
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