President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday by the Spanish daily El Pais that Mexico was not a failed state and blamed the United States for the flow of illegal arms into his country.
Calderon said he regretted the fact that the matter of referring to Mexico as a failed state appeared in a U.S. government report.
Crime is the most serious problem facing Mexico and a coexistence pact with the criminals is not the solution to quelling the violence besetting the country, Calderon said.
“The political culture in Mexico before forecast that the solution was making an arrangement with the criminals and that would be it ... Then, the agreement was: Look, I don’t see you because it’s a federal matter ... You don’t see me, everyone is happy. I don’t get involved in your business, you don’t get involved in mine ... That has ended,” Calderon said.
The president, however, admitted his fear that the cultural temptation to make a pact or an arrangement with the criminals still prevails in some parts of the country.
Calderon was also asked about the relationship with the United States and the recent resignation of U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, who questioned in a Wikileaks cable the capability of the Mexican army and whether it could effectively conduct the fight against drug trafficking.
“For me, the relationship with the United States is very important and it’s a very complex relationship and much broader than the issue relating to people (Pascual),” Calderon said, adding that the armed forces and the Federal Police have played an important role in the fight against the drug cartels.
Clashes among rival cartels and between criminals and the security forces have claimed some 35,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when the newly inaugurated Calderon militarized the struggle against the drug trade.
Calderon partly blames the United States for Mexico’s internal violence because of the northern country’s demand for drugs and the trafficking of weapons south across the mutual border.
“On the issue of weapons, I won’t give in. On the contrary, (I’ll exert) greater pressure because it’s a powerful issue,” Calderon told El Pais.
With just a year remaining before the next presidential elections, Calderon discussed infrastructure, universal health care coverage and the creation of a solid institution base that resolves the problems of public safety as his priorities before his term comes to a close.
Calderon, who gave no clues as to who the future candidate of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, would be in the 2012 election, also criticized the opposition for making tax reform more difficult and for harboring nationalist prejudices from putting the brakes on the conversion of the country into an oil power.
“We have a problem due to political and labor restrictions, prejudices. That has prevented Mexico from being the petroleum power that it’s destined to be,” Calderon said.