Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory in this week’s presidential election in Mexico is a big one for Mexico, and not only because it means the return of his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to power. It also means new (or perhaps a return to the old, pre-Calderón) policies towards the country’s out-of-control drug trade.The FT reports that Peña Nieto will, among other things, create a 40,000-strong security force focused on protecting citizens rather than actively seeking out drug lords and illegal crops. But the fight against the cartels will continue as well: “There will be no pact or truce with organised crime.”There are a couple of important things to understand about this election, and about Mexico today. First, Mexican citizens are sick of the violence that has engulfed their country, and Peña Nieto is well aware of this. Those Americans who were alive in the 1970s no doubt remember the awful crime waves in many of our own cities. It was unbearable. It had to stop. Mexico is in an even worse mess today and the public is demanding basic security on the streets.Second, this represents a major opportunity both for Peña Nieto and the country he is about to lead. If he can get the crime and violence under control, Mexico is ready to take off. The return of manufacturing to North America has already boosted the economy, but once the streets are reasonably safe, and once Mexicans see legitimate business as the best opportunity for wealth and advancement, boom times will truly hit Mexico.This would be great for the United States. It would reduce our immigration problems and it will boost our economy as the Mexican domestic market grows. Let’s hope Washington is ready to work with the new Mexican government to figure out how we can help.
Mexico: The Old Path to New Riches
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