Friday, January 20, 2012

PAN's Ernesto Cordero promises, "I'll get El Chapo Guzmán if I'm elected president"

Mexico's insecurity is the inheritance of 70 years of PRI rule, says candidate

Pulling out all the stops today to win his party's nomination, National Action Party (PAN) candidate Ernesto Cordero promised to deliver up Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, if he's elected the next president of Mexico on July 1.

The Dept. of Justice says the cartel easily dominates narcotics trafficking and distribution in the U.S. (producing marijuana within the country), and on January 10 the government again labeled Guzmán as "the world's biggest drug dealer. He escaped from a Mexican prison in January 2001 and remains free more than 11 years later. Cordero, a finance expert who emphasizes that his tactical approach towards the cartels would be to "follow the money," believes that El Chapo will ultimately be brought down by tracking his bank records internationally.

Of course, Cordero will first have to win the PAN primary contest on February 5 before he goes looking for El Chapo. That presents a tall order, since by all indications competitor Josefina Vázquez Mota already has the PAN nomination pretty well sown up. Polls last week showed Mota with 54% support compared to opponents Santiago Creel, with 31%, and Ernesto Cordero, with just 12%. Josefina continues polling strong.

If Cordero is elected to the presidency -- very much a long shot -- he may want to focus part of his search north of the border. That's where current PAN president Felipe Calderón thinks the elusive "Shorty," as he's known, is probably sequestered.

A Mexican security expert told the Washington Post last October that "Chapo moves a kilo of cocaine across the U.S. border practically every 10 minutes." But president Calderón wants to capture or kill Guzmán as much as the U.S. does, since he would be the crown jewel in the 61 month old National Security Strategy which Calderón launched after taking office in December 2006.

In a January 10 interview, Ernesto Cordero charged that Mexico's insecurity in the face of rampant drug trafficking and organized crime is a direct "inheritance of 70 years of PRI rule." PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, controlled the Mexican presidency until it was defeated by PAN in 2000. This year's PRI nominee, Enrique Peña Nieto, is heavily favored to win the July 1 general election, and many believe that he is unstoppable.

Cordero is a former secretary of Mexico's Hacienda, a federal department roughly the equivalent of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Management and Budget rolled into one. He campaigns heavily on his years of business experience. Even if he loses the PAN primary, Cordero might play a role in a PAN administration -- if his party captures the presidency again.

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