Mexico Opposition Candidate Says She’d Get Tough With Cartels

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s main opposition candidate vowed to crack down on drug cartels ahead of the presidential campaign’s third and final debate, which will focus on security and foreign relations.

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In an interview with the Financial Times published Sunday, Xóchitl Gálvez said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s strategy of “hugs not bullets” had failed and that the solution instead is “confronting criminals.”

AMLO, as the president is known, has used the military to build infrastructure and boost economic growth, even as murders in Mexico hit a record high at the start of his six-year term.

“No one has as much power as the state and you have to use it,” Gálvez told the FT. “You have to use it intelligently but firmly.”

Gálvez is trailing ruling party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum by 27 percentage points heading in to Sunday’s debate, according to the Bloomberg Poll Tracker. Mexico elects a successor to AMLO on June 2.

A businesswoman before entering politics, Gálvez said Mexico would have to tread carefully in international relations so it can capitalize on a potential boom in so-called nearshoring as the US refocuses commercial ties with allies.

“The trade polarization between China and the United States tells us clearly that Mexico must not get this wrong,” she told the FT.

She also criticized the outgoing government’s often-uncritical approach to countries such as Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. “I won’t associate myself with authoritarian and corrupt governments,” she said.

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