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What Changes Can Mexicans Expect Under Pena Nieto Presidency?

July 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Ray Suarez talks to Margaret Warner about the changes President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto might bring to Mexico, and how he still needs to deal with governors accused of colluding with criminals.
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RAY SUAREZ: And Margaret joins us now from Mexico City.

Margaret, welcome.

How does Pena Nieto’s agenda, his promised agenda during the campaign, differ from that of the current ruling party? Should Mexicans be expecting big changes when he takes over at the end of the year?

MARGARET WARNER: Well, Ray, they’re certainly expecting changes. And he’s been clear at least in sweeping terms. As I said in the piece, on the reducing-violence side, he has said it’s time to start focusing on the really violent cartels, not to give up the fight against them, but to refocus.

And that means really going after, say, the Zetas, who boast of leaving 49 headless bodies on a highway. And he wants U.S. help with that to also pressure Zetas’ customers in the United States. Now on economic reform, he’s promised some pretty big things. And they all concern introducing competition into what are these huge public and private monopolies here in oil and gas and in electricity and telecommunications.

These are both controlled by stalwarts of the PRI. So, whether it’s Pemex, the oil company, or whether it’s the telecom giant owned by Carlos Slim. And so their theory is that Mexico could be growing a lot faster if only they had more competition. And that’s really going to be his number one focus economically.

BEHIND THE SCENES: What happened when Margaret's connection was lost?

RAY SUAREZ: As you noted in your report, one passage in the victory speech last night has been getting a lot of attention. In the face of organized crime, there will be neither negotiation nor truce.

Was that an important signal that the new administration will continue fighting the war on the drug cartel? And was that heard in an important way in the United States?

MARGARET WARNER: It was a very important signal.

The Pena Nieto camp thought long and hard about that speech last night. And that’s what they wanted to say. They had to say that because of the PRI’s history both on the federal level and in the states of colluding with cartels in certain areas.

Now, the PRI advisers to Pena Nieto say that’s impossible anyway, because President Calderon’s drug was has so fragmented the cartels, there aren’t any two or three top people to deal with in any event. But he needed to send a strong signal that he won’t join in something like that.

And the problem for him is that there are PRI governors who are considered to be, we would say mobbed-up, carteled-up, and who are colluding in some way either out of fear or because of financial gain out in the states. And so the big question is, even if on a federal level the new government isn’t going to collude, what is he going to do about these PRI governors?

RAY SUAREZ: Now, in 2006, the second-place finisher, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, lost by a whisper, by a hair. And he challenged the results, as you noted, but took it even further, calling himself the real president of Mexico, even swearing in a shadow cabinet.

Yes, the official results won’t be made known until later in the week. Is there any signal from the PRD whether they will accept the results as they’re released by the independent electoral commission?

Well, there’s been an interruption because of the weather. Perhaps you could see the heavy rain falling in Mexico’s central square, the Zocalo. We have lost the signal from Mexico City — Jeff, back to you.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that’s the perils of live television. So we will move on while we try to get the signal back with Margaret.