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Felipe Calderón’s Legacy in Mexico

8:15 AM, Nov 29, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
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A stronger legal system will help the Mexican economy, which has increasingly bright long-term prospects. After suffering a bad recession in 2009, Mexico grew faster than Brazil last year and will probably grow more than twice as fast as Brazil this year. According to a Bloomberg News analysis, Brazil was home to 15 of the world’s 500 most-valuable companies in 2010 but only 10 in 2012, while Mexico went from having five to having nine. “The one-company differential [between Brazil and Mexico] is the smallest since 1998,” reports Bloomberg correspondent Ney Hayashi. Mexico is now the fourth-largest global exporter of automobiles; the Chinese-Mexican wage gap has almost disappeared; the country is attracting significant foreign investment; and the national legislature recently passed a labor-market reform that will further boost Mexican competitiveness.

The drug war remains a terrible menace to Mexican security and prosperity. But as Robert Bonner, the former DEA administrator, points out, Calderón “will bequeath to his successor major successes against the cartels, newly invigorated institutions, and a sound strategy.”

Indeed, he bravely tackled a crisis that had emerged long before his presidency, and he took big steps toward transforming Mexico into a country where the rule of law reigns supreme. The job isn’t nearly finished, but Calderón can take real pride in his achievements, despite the continuing violence.

Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

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