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Narco Blog: Mexican Party says U.S. Sees No Danger of Cartel Pact

Narco Blog: Mexican Party says U.S. Sees No Danger of Cartel Pact

Photo: Mexico Violence

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The United States considers reports that the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, might cut a deal with Mexico’s drug cartels if it wins the presidency an “unfounded myth,” a party official said, citing statements by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden.

Biden expressed the United States’ position during a meeting Monday in Mexico City with PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who is the favorite to win the July 1 presidential election, Peña Nieto’s campaign chief, Luis Videgaray, told Radio Formula.

Biden told Peña Nieto that the “United States does not have this fear,” Videgaray said.

The U.S. vice president was alluding to reports “in some circles of public opinion” that the PRI might “return to an era of supposed pacts” with Mexico’s organized crime groups, Videgaray said.

Biden said the United States “is sure” that a Peña Nieto administration “will work to fight organized crime,” Videgaray said.

“This is a message from the U.S. government to create confidence among Mexicans in general and especially PRI members that there is nothing against the PRI,” the campaign chief said.

Peña Nieto’s campaign has been trying to counter reports that came out last year about certain PRI factions supposedly preferring the option of cutting deals with Mexico’s cartels to reduce the drug-related violence in the country.

PRI leaders have always denied that there might be a preference among members for deals with the cartels and criticized the governing National Action Party, or PAN, for using such reports for political gain.

The issue gained traction last October after President Felipe Calderon told The New York Times that certain sectors of the PRI were willing to negotiate with criminal organizations in the past and might do so again.

“There are many in the PRI who think the deals of the past would work now. I don’t see what deal could be done, but that is a mentality that many of them have,” the president said in response to a question about the PRI’s reputation for having dealt with criminal organizations.

Calderon told The New York Times that former Nuevo Leon Gov. Socrates Rizzo was among the PRI members who had cut deals with criminal organizations.

“There are many in the PRI who agree with the policy I have, at least they say so in secret, while publicly they may say something else,” Calderon told The New York Times.

Peña Nieto told reporters after his meeting with Biden that the two discussed the drug-related violence in Mexico.

“I made my personal position and that of my party very clear of having an unwavering commitment as leaders of the Mexican state to fighting organized crime,” Peña Nieto said.