October 26, 2011
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Mexican president Felipe Calderón suggested in a September 28 interview with the New York Times that a PRI win next year would very likely carry with it a return to "the old days," when some PRI politicians quietly tolerated organized crime, or made informal pacts with drug traffickers, or simply looked the other way. In a sidebar article published with the interview Calderón was also quoted as saying that the most probable PRI candidate in the 2012 election, Enrique Peña Nieto, would go soft on the drug cartels, and would be disposed to "crawl back into bed with them."
The widely reported comments set off a firestorm of controversy, especially within PRI. Mexican Senator Carolos Jiménez Macías, a PRI powerhouse who speaks for the party, has demanded that Calderón retract the statements and apologize for them. Jiménez Macías also demanded that Calderón "get his hands entirely out" of the 2012 electoral process.
Calderón has not commented directly on the controversy, but his Secretary of Governmental Affairs did so today. During a press conference Francisco Blake told reporters that the president had not been accurately quoted by the Times reporters. Blake said that Calderón had not made his comments against PRI “as an institution,” but rather was referring to things which have already been publicly admitted by some former PRI leaders, most notably Sócrates Rizzo, an ex-mayor of Monterrey and ex-governor of Nuevo Leon state.
PRI leaders said late today that they are not satisfied with the response by Blake, and they plan to debate the matter tomorrow.
Note: Secretary Francisco Blake died tragically on November 11, 2011, when a helicopter carrying him and seven other government officials crashed in heavy fog. It was the second time Calderón has lost a cabinet officer who held this key post. His previous secretary of government was killed in a plane crash while landing in Mexico City three years earlier, almost to the day. Details here: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/calderon-top-cabinet-member-killed-in.html.