Sounding Like a Candidate, Jorge Castaneda Calls for Change

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on February 9, 2010

Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's Foreign Minister from 2000 to 2003, indicated that he's not likely to be a candidate in the 2012 presidential election. But he certainly is sounding like a candidate as he crisscrosses Mexico, promoting a new book and outlining a made-for-campaigning program for change.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on the Spanish-language Univision TV program Al Punto, the New York University professor and prolific writer said Mexico needs to dismantle corporate and political monopolies that have thwarted progress with their stifling "concentration of power, wealth and opportunities." He cited such giants as Pemex, Telmex, Cemex, and even Pan Bimbo, on the corporate side. He also pointed to the notorious national teachers union and the infamously corrupt union at Pemex. He even called for a third national television station to broaden avenues of public opinion.

Castaneda, who spearheaded efforts by Vicente Fox, Mexico's president from 2000 to 2006, to negotiate an immigration deal with the United States, said President Felipe Calderon has made a mistake by de-emphasizing immigration in the bilateral agenda.

"The bottom line is that this is the most important international issue for Mexico," he said. "We are 11, 12 [million] Mexicans, those of us who live in the United States at least part of the time . . . Never in history has there been such a high proportion of Mexicans living outside of Mexico -- almost 11 percent."

Mexico needs to leverage this strength in Washington, he said. "We have to push Obama, above all because he wants to get the immigration reform." He added that Mexico needs "to insist, propose, negotiate so that this can move ahead."

Castaneda also said Mexico should propose a program of North American economic integration that is "much more daring and visionary" than the current system.

His new book, co-written with Hector Aguila Camin, is titled "Un Futuro Para Mexico." He gave no indication about if or when it will be available in English.