Mexico: Vazquez Mota talks about economy, abortion, and the war on drugs
Presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota visited Univision’s Mexico bureau this week, discussing her views on abortion, the economy, and the war on drugs with Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos. (Photo: Gaudencia Vargas, Univision)
Mexican presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota visited Univision’s Mexico bureau this week, and spoke with Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos about her views on abortion, how to tackle drug crime in Mexico, and how she would be different –- or similar — to Mexico’s current president.
Vazquez Mota recently won the primaries for President Felipe Calderon’s party, the PAN, with a solid majority, becoming the first ever female presidential candidate for a major party in Mexico.
But she has been described as an “enigma” by political analysts, who have complained that in the primaries Vazquez Mota failed to provide concrete proposals on how to make Mexico’s economy more competitive –- and less monopolistic — or how to decrease drug violence in Mexico.
During a 10-minute interview for Univision’s Sunday morning talk show Al Punto, Jorge Ramos pressed Vazquez Mota on her security policies.
“Is it time to break with President Calderon?” Ramos asked. “Would you be willing to admit, for example, that the 50 thousand (drug violence) deaths (since 2006), are proof that the President’s anti-narcotics policies have failed?”
Vazquez Mota evaded the second part of the question.
“I am not more of the same Jorge. But that does not mean breaking with President Calderon,” she said, adding that, during her administration, she would improve Mexico’s police force and seek life in prison for public officials who worked with drug traffickers.
As the current government’s candidate in July’s presidential elections, Vazquez Mota is in a peculiar predicament.
According to analysts consulted by Univision News, she must overcome widespread exhaustion with 12 years of government by the conservative PAN if she wants to win, and in particular, she must address concerns that Calderon and the PAN have not been able to control Mexico’s spiraling drug violence.
At the same time, however, Vazquez Mota cannot appear to be too different from Calderon. She must still find ways to appeal to her party’s conservative base, which supports the PAN over issues like restrained government spending.
In her interview with Ramos, Vazquez Mota talked about building on Calderon’s macro-economic achievements (low inflation rates, fiscal prudence) and strengthening Mexico’s internal market — although she did not go into details about how she would achieve that.
Vazquez Mota also had some things to say about the opposition when Ramos asked her why she had attacked PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in a victory speech following the primaries. (Peña Nieto currently leads Vazquez Mota by a comfortable –- but slightly diminished — 15 point lead in most polls).
“It’s not by going to the past that we will construct the future,” Vazquez Mota said of Peña Nieto and his party, which governed Mexico for most of the 20th century. “I am sure that we will surpass he who leads the polls right now, and we will win the Presidency.”
Ramos asked Vazquez Mota if she would be willing to open Mexico’s TV industry up to more competition, as, currently, it is dominated by just two companies.
“Mexico must open competition not only in this market, but in other markets,” Vazquez Mota said. “If we want a prosperous and more just country, there has to be competition in practically every sector of the country.”
Given that abortion is still illegal in most of Mexico, and in many states is considered a criminal felony that can lead to jail sentences for women who abort (thanks to the efforts of PAN and PRI legislators), Ramos asked Vazquez Mota how she would protect some 800,000 Mexican women who seek underground abortions each year.
“I would like to confirm that I am pro-life,” Vazquez Mota said, perhaps negating the possibility that she would push for the legalization of abortion, “but I am absolutely against criminalizing women. We must support these women in many ways. We must aim for prevention, and once they have suffered through this process (of an unwanted pregnancy), there must be a public policy that supports them and does not ignore them,” Vazquez Mota added.
In a reference to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Ramos finished off the interview, by asking the socially conservative Vazquez Mota if she was Mexico’s “Iron Lady.”
“I want to be a strong, decisive, and brave presidenta,” Vazquez Mota said. “I will be a commander-in-chief that is fitting of the armed forces, but at the same time I will know how to take care of families and how to build (political) agreements. There will be force, but there will also be comprehension and willingness for dialogue,” Vazquez Mota said.