AHORA Latin America

It has been just over six months since Enrique Peña Nieto took office as Mexico’s President. His ascension to power marked the return of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI), which had ruled Mexico in a one-party state for seven decades prior to the 2000 election of Vicente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, or PAN).

The sexenium of Peña Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderón of the PAN, was marked by bloodshed as Calderón took a more aggressive stance against the drug cartels by sending in the army to confront the problem and employing a “beheading” strategy, meaning the targeting of cartel kingpins. Tens of thousands of Mexicans died in the resulting violence, with numbers ranging from the official government count of 47,000 to Human Rights Watch’s claim that 65,000 were killed.

The return of the PRI indicates the Mexican populace was thirsty for a different approach to the drug war. To assess how Peña Nieto has done so far, I asked a few questions to Dr. Duncan Wood, currently the Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here in Washington. Prior to holding this position, Dr. Wood was a professor and director of the International Relations program at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City. While his research focuses on the Mexican energy sector, his expertise extends into North American relations more broadly as well.