“I think we can start moving beyond what is sometimes a monothematic relationship due to the [drug war] issue. We can start focusing on prosperity issues again, like better integrating our economies so we can present a more powerful regional block to the world.” Pena Nieto

World

Enrique Peña Nieto takes office tomorrow, Dec. 1, as the next President of Mexico—whose young and otherwise successful democracy is beset by narco-bloodshed (60,000 murders in the past six years), an underachieving economy (average annual growth of only 2% since 2000) and a feeling that its Latin American leadership role has been eclipsed by its fast-developing South American rival, Brazil. Peña, 46, the popular former governor of central Mexico state, convinced Mexican voters that his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000 as a corrupt, one-party dictatorship, has righted itself enough to right Mexico. (Read TIME International’s cover story on Peña, available to subscribers.) He spoke with TIME’s Latin America bureau chief, Tim Padgett, and Mexico reporter Dolly Mascareñas at his transition headquarters in Mexico City. Excerpts (translated from Spanish):

TIME: Your presidency marks a critical moment for Mexico. What are the most…

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