Jeff Horwich: Mexicans have picked a new president: Enrique Peña Nieto, with the Institutional Revolutionary Party — known as the PRI. The PRI controlled Mexico for 70 years. Voters tossed it out in the year 2000 after years of corruption and economic crisis.
Reporter Jennifer Collins is with me from Mexico City. Hello Jennifer.
Jennifer Collins: Hello.
Horwich: So if the PRI left such a bad taste in people’s mouths last time around, why did Mexicans bring them back?
Collins: So, you talk to people on the street here and they think Enrique Peña Nieto and his party will be able to improve the on-the-ground economy.
I spoke with Claudia Jimenez at a polling station about why she voted for him.
Claudia Jimenez: I feel like he’s going to create more jobs. For me, I think we’re going to be more stable in every way.
That of course is her nod to the instability created by the drug war — maybe you’ve heard of it?
Horwich: Yeah, he’s inheriting one of the most dangerous countries on the planet (at least it seems that way to Americans). Does Peña Nieto have a real plan?
Collins: Well Peña Nieto says he’ll go after the violence instead of the outright battles with the drug cartels now. There’s talk of beefing up police forces and improving intelligence to limit the guns and money coming back into the country.
Carlos Ramirez of the Eurasia group says those are all good ideas.
Carlos Ramirez: But I don’t see a strong commitment from Peña to really tackle this problem.
And as long as it remains a problem, it’s limiting economic growth, he says, by 1 percent of GDP. That’s billions of dollars in tourism, investment and transportation of legitimate exports to the U.S.
Horwich: Should we expect any changes in Mexico’s relationship with the U.S.?
Collins: So, if anything, Peña Nieto wants to make the relationship even better. After all, we buy three-quarters of Mexico’s exports, and U.S. visitors are the largest source of tourism. Many in Mexico will tell you they hope the violence subsides so more of those visitors return.
Horwich: Jennifer Collins in Mexico City, thank you.
Collins: You’re welcome.