06/28/2012 08:53 am ET Updated Aug 28, 2012

Mexican Presidential Candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota: "I'll Help Mexicans Stay in Mexico"

For the first time ever, a woman could win Mexico's presidential election. Josefina Vázquez Mota is the candidate for the governing PAN party in Sunday's elections. But she's trailing behind Enrique Pena Nieto, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) candidate. Recently Vázquez Mota added an unexpected twist to the campaign by asking her female followers to withhold "hanky panky" until their husbands agree to vote. In an exclusive interview, Vázquez Mota tells Metro how she's going to win the election, how she's planning to win the war on drugs -- and whether Mexican migration to the US is good or bad.

Leader after leader tries to win Mexico's war on drugs -- and fails. What's needed to finally defeat the drug trade?
I won't sign any agreements with the criminals. The people who have failed in the war on drugs are the ruling politicians, especially the PRI and the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution). The country's most violent states are or have recently been ruled by the PRI. The citizens' safety can't wait. The quickest route to address the security crisis is to strengthen the national police force. Having 150,000 federal police officers could reduce violence and support states that are in critical condition and recover territories that are dominated by criminals.

Uruguay recently admitted defeat and legalized drugs. Is that the best option for Mexico, too?
The problem of illegal drug trafficking and violence and crime associated with it is not an issue that can be solved on the national level. There is no point in decriminalizing drugs in a country when the vast majority of countries in the region prohibit production, trafficking and consumption. And it's essential that the medical society in Mexico and around the world defines once and for all which types of substances have an effect on people's health.

Mexican immigrants are a huge topic in the US election. Isn't it embarrassing for Mexico that your citizens leave in droves for the US?
Mexican immigration to the United States has recently stopped increasing after four decades of steady increas. The standstill appears to be result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the long-term decline in Mexico's birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico. But remember that Mexican immigration to the United States has responded to the US labor market. There are sectors of the economy that depend heavily on immigrant labor. Despite the common myth that immigrants take American jobs, immigrant workers fill essential jobs in the labor market, particularly in the low and high skilled ends of the labor market.

Arizona now has a fence to keep illegal Mexican immigrants away. What's your reaction?
Mexico recognizes the right of each country to enact its own laws, but we also have a duty to protect our citizens not only in our territory, but beyond our borders. We welcome the US Supreme Court's decision to strike down major provisions of Arizona's new immigration law, particularly the ones referring to the criminalization of undocumented workers. However, we remain concerned about the impact of the remaining provisions of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect of being in the United States illegally. On the other hand, my government will continue to work with the US government to fight organized crime. We will combat illicit arms trafficking as well as money laundering.

The goal of any politician is to raise their country's living standards. As Mexico gets wealthier, would it be good or bad if large numbers of Mexicans returned from the US?
One of the main goals of my administration is to raise the Mexico's living standards, which will increase the welfare of the Mexican population. The programs I am proposing will have a double effect. On one hand Mexico will have a strong job creation program that will prevent in an effective way a new flow of immigrants to the US, and, on the other hand, will facilitate the "soft landing" of returning immigrants. First, my government will create an Under-Secretariat for Migrant Affairs, in the Mexican Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which will implement a specific plan to guarantee a safe and orderly return of migrants who decide to return to Mexico.

You recently made news by encouraging your female supporters to abstain from sex as a way to get their husbands to vote. If they do, will it help you win the presidency?
Latin countries are known for their great sense of humor, and we express it in every field of our lives. When I play with words with the Mexican women, my intention is always to encourage all Mexicans to go to the polls this Sunday to exercise their voting rights. I urge all men and women not to allow the PRI to return, which is represented with two candidates running for president. One of them claims to be the new face of the PRI but would represent going back to corruption and complicity with organized crime, and the other candidate, who does not respect the institutions but speaks of love, will generate economic crisis, division and hatred among Mexicans. Let's not allow the PRI back.

Previously published in Metro,