10 Questions for Mexican President Felipe Calderón

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Peter Hapak for TIME

Mexican President Felipe Calderón

In a new TV show, Mexico: The Royal Tour, you're seen climbing monuments and paddling down rivers. This is not what we usually expect from world leaders. Why did you do it?
The message is "Mexico, the place you thought you knew." We went to very specific and unique places, like the Basement of the Swallows, places very few people know.

What are the best and worst things about being one of the U.S.'s nearest neighbors?
The benefits are obvious: economy and trade. The biggest problem is drugs. We live in a building in which my neighbor is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and everybody wants to sell him drugs through my window. At the same time, he is the largest exporter of weapons in the world. It's very difficult to live with such a neighbor.

Is it true that you would like to see America legalize drugs?
I can hit the criminals, I can put them in jails, I can take control of their structures, I can rebuild the social fabric. But if Americans don't reduce the demand or don't reduce at least the profits coming from the black market for drugs, it will be impossible to solve this problem.

So the answer is yes?
I want to see a serious analysis of the alternatives, and one alternative is to explore the different legal regimes about drugs. Even in the U.S., you can see states in which marijuana is ... if that is not legal, I don't understand what legal means. No? Marijuana has some kind of "medical" use, for instance, no?

You're putting air quotes around medical?
It's like the "medical" use of tequila. You have a cold, you can drink one or two tequilas. If you don't fix the cold, at least you forget the cold, no?

Would you ever consider legalizing drugs in Mexico?
For Mexico, it will be useless to do so, because the objective is to reduce the price and the price is determined by the American market.

How have the Arizona immigration laws played out?
Well, I don't know if the Arizona law was successful, but what I can see in the American society is the seeds of anger and discrimination, and I have serious concerns about this. This anti-Mexican feeling in the air here is very sad for our bilateral relationship. On the other side, some research from Princeton University shows that the [net] immigration of Mexican people to the U.S. is not only at the lowest point ever, it's almost zero.

What's with that? Have you fallen out of love with us?
It could be part of the law-enforcement activities. But also, Mexico is generating opportunities. We have created almost 100 new universities. This year, or beginning next, we are going to reach universal health coverage.

What will you do if Americans start sneaking into your country to see a doctor?
Actually, I'm looking for that. We have a potential win-win situation. We gain jobs, and Americans reduce these crazy costs for medical services.

So what's your favorite American food?