Seeking to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship.
A Mexican state could approve medicinal use of marijuana by the end of this year, paving the way for further steps toward legalizing the drug, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said on Monday. Political pressure inside Mexico to liberalize its stance on marijuana has been rising since the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado legalized possession and sale of the drug for recreational use in 2012. In July, opposition lawmakers in the western state of Jalisco put forward a plan to change local drug laws, including permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The administration of Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Friday that it would waive 70 percent of the $487 million in debt Cuba owes to Mexico, according to Reuters. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox, never too keen on the island’s government, doesn’t like the move. On Sunday, he compared the Cuban government to the chupacabras, a mythical blood-sucking creature. “I don’t see why the debt ought to be forgiven,” said Fox. “Let the Cubans get to work and generate their own money…They’re normally like chupacabras. The only thing they’re looking for is someone to give them money for free.”
Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said on Friday that Mexico would pardon much of the longstanding debt (it’s been owed for 15 years) and give Cuba another 10 years to pay the other 30 percent, so that “things would flow well” between the two countries. Mexico-Cuba relations were tight under the 70-year reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – Animal Politico notes that Mexico was the only Latin American country which elected to defy heavy US pressure to join the 1959 embargo against Cuba – but things changed with the arrival of Vicente Fox in office in 2000.
Former President Vicente Fox grew up on a farm here in rural Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s most conservative states. He is the kind of guy who wears big belt buckles, collects hand-tooled saddles and worships the free market.
Ask him about his experience with the drug culture and the big man with the cowboy-movie mustache exhibits a kind of straight-laced pique: Never smoked pot, he says. Hardly knew anyone who did.
But Fox has always fancied himself a policy maverick. And these days, the former standard-bearer of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, has emerged as one of Latin America’s most outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization.
Ex-president Vicente Fox says Mexico should legalize marijuana to steal business back from violent drug cartels — and when it’s legal, he’s in (as a grower). “Once it is legitimate and legal, of course, I do some farming. I can do it myself,” the conservative former leader said from his ranch in San Francisco del Rincon.
Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive who was president from 2000-2006, surprised many when he was among early voices in Mexico calling for illegal drugs to be legalized, seeing it as the only way to break the cycle of violent crime. “Mexico should become an authorized producer, and export marijuana to places where it is already legal,” argued Fox, who is part of a group of former Latin American leaders pushing for drug legalization opposed by the United States.
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
Mexico’s economic performance was once again the focus of much media attention, though the press offered a less optimistic and more nuanced view than in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, for instance, both reported on the crisis affecting three of Mexico’s leading homebuilders. Government subsidies that fueled the construction of at least 2 million low-income homes since 2000 have stopped, prompting homebuilders to miss debt payments. Many homes built far from urban centers remain empty, and the government has announced its policy will now favor vertical (i.e. high-rise) construction in cities.
On a more positive note, the Journal reported that foreign clothing retailers, motivated by relaxed tariffs and youthful demographics are now flocking to Mexico. In a survey of foreign and domestic firms conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, 42% of respondents said they believed the country’s security situation had improved, and almost half of the firms surveyed said they expect additional improvement over the next five years. The same survey, however, suggested extortion has become a problem for more companies, with 36% of respondents reporting it in 2012 compared to only 16% in 2011.
By George E. Condon Jr., National Journal, 5/9/2013
President George W. Bush was the picture of confidence as he sat in the Roosevelt Room talking to a small group of reporters about the upcoming visit of Mexican President Vicente Fox. Sipping on a Diet Coke and loudly crunching ice on this September day in 2001, Bush proclaimed the start of a new era in U.S. relations with its neighbor to the south. “The United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico,” he declared firmly. Seven days later, terrorists struck in New York City and Washington, and that relationship suddenly didn’t seem quite as important as the alliances with countries ready to send troops to support American aims. U.S.-Mexico was shoved unceremoniously into the background. And Fox, who did not back the U.S. at the United Nations when Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq, found he could no longer get his phone calls returned by the White House.
It was a dramatic reminder that events—more than even presidents—set agendas. And it is a lesson with some relevance to President Obama, who traveled to Mexico last week and repeated some of the now-expected promises to elevate U.S.-Mexican relations in the foreign policy hierarchy. No one doubts the president’s sincerity. He understands the growing importance of trade with Mexico and with the Central American countries, whose leaders he met with last week in Costa Rica. In fact, a main purpose of the trip was to shift attention from the issues of drug cartels, crime, and violence that dominated earlier hemispheric summits. That repositioning came even amid indications that newly elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is reconsidering some security cooperation with the United States.
COHISTAS: Council on Hemispheric Affairs Blog, 3/12/2013
The following is an interview with Vicente Fox conducted by Paula Beatriz Mian –COHA Research Fellow.
Q1: Do you agree with the optimistic perception regarding the quality of democracy in Mexico?
Vicente Fox:I do not only agree, but I also support this optimistic perception. We live in a different Mexico when compared to the country of 12 years ago. Democracy is the most valuable resource on which Mexicans rely today, like never before freedom of speech allows us the possibility to give our opinion and raise our voice when we need to defend our democracy. There is certainly a long way to go, but we are on the right route.
Q2: Is the Pact for Mexico a threat for the country?
Vicente Fox:Nobody in his right mind could think that the Pact for Mexico poses a threat to democracy and to plurality. It is a political agreement with great importance. Its vision is to reach great actions and specific reforms that project Mexico to a more prosperous future. The Pact for Mexico is the result of the president’s political will along with the will of the three Mexican political parties, PRI, PAN and PRD, to realize the reforms that the country needs. With the inclusion of the legislative power in this pact, I don’t doubt that it is going to succeed.