Apparently after months of delays, caused by a busy schedule that included escorting travel journalist Peter Greenberg around Mexico, President Felipe Calderon sat down last week with journalists from the New York Times.
That there were long delays in arranging the interview is known because Times newsman Damien Cave so tweeted on Sept. 20:
Despite months of requests, President Calderon has decided not to speak with us. Travel shows, yes. New York Times, no.
Pres. Calderon, though he talks often about the U.S., has generally refused to sit 4 tough questions from correspondents in his own country.
I should clarify. We still have a request in to Calderon. A long standing request, not yet accepted. But they could still say yes. Right?
In the end, Calderon acceded. The interview took place and was played on the less than illustrious page 6A of the Gray Lady.
What I found interesting is not so much the interview, which probably contains more quotes from others about Calderon than what he had to say himself. Rather, it’s that Los Pinos found it necessary to send out a clarification tonight on several points, including the suggestion that members of the PRI might want to reach an accommodation with narcos rather than continue the kind of battle that Calderon has waged.
Los Pinos found a need to expand on this paragraph in the story:
One change Mr. Calderón has pressed for would give the president wide latitude to declare a state of emergency and suspend constitutional guarantees, provoking criticism that the plan would worsen abuses by the military.
Los Pinos said Calderon has not considered such a move.
There’s really little surprise that Calderon would take so long to speak one-on-one to a U.S. newspaper with a bureau in Mexico (it’s the first such interview since I arrived in March 2010). Calderon has many audiences that he must address, ranging from those in his own party, Mexicans in general, the political opposition, U.S. politicians, and fellow Latin leaders. I don’t think the general U.S. public would be high on that list. And as Damien Cave suggests, Calderon can get tough questions that need follow-up clarifications.