The US spied on Mexico's leaders? So what else is new?

Player utilities

Listen to the story.

Marco Werman: Let's turn to Franc Contreras now; he's a freelance journalist based in Mexico City. Last week we spoke to you Frank about how grateful Mexico was to the US for being the deal-maker on the soccer field and getting Mexico another crack at qualifying for the World Cup, but over the weekend we learned that the NSA had been spying on former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, so on the turn of a dime we've gone from love to serious dislike. Is that the reaction, in Mexico, to this news? Franc Contreras: That's how it looks from here, and pretty much, that sums up the relationship as it's gone for decades, Marco. Werman: And how is the government feeling about these revelations. It was the government that was being spied on, after all. Contreras: The Mexican government, according to these revelations was being spied on since 2010, during that year, as you pointed out Marco, Felipe Calderon was the President of Mexico. He was undertaking a major war against drug trafficking organizations and getting a lot of support from the United States government, so they really wanted to know, you know, was he staying on the right side, or were there people in his administration who were being pulled over to the drug traffickers' side because of corruption. Werman: I mean, Calderon and the US were not just Allies. There's also allegations that the same email monitoring system that was being used to gain information on the drug cartels was also being used on the President, Felipe Calderon. Contreras: That's what the evidence seems to reveal at this stage. I should also point out that at that time, just a few years before all of this was taking place, the Mexican government itself opened laws that allowed the government to do that kind of spying on its people. The kind of thing that happened with the Patriot Act in the United States, very similar language in the legislation that allowed the Mexican government to do that. So this sort of thing was taking place. The Mexican government looking at its own people, but apparently also the United States. And it happened on three separate occasions at least, according to the documents that are coming forward. Werman: So now current President Enrique Peña Nieto, I mean he's in the hot seat now. What's been the reaction to the revelation that the NSA has been spying on the highest office in Mexico? Contreras: On the international tone of how countries like France have been reacting, you know, such a strong call-out bringing the US ambassador over to talk to the foreign ministry in France, you know, Mexico is taking a quite lighter touch. We know that the Mexican economy would absolutely collapse without strong relations with the United States. Still 80% of everything Mexico exports to the world is going to the United States. So you know the trade ties are tremendous. So the Mexican government is being very careful about this. They do step out to condemn it officially, but that's how you get a little slap on the hand. Werman: You know Franc, it's interesting that the headline about the surveillance in France seems to be 70 million French phone records got snagged in the NSA net. And Mexico seems somewhat different in which we've got the President, who was an active player in the drug war, even an alleged target at one point of the drug cartels. He's being spied upon. Are any Mexicans saying that, hey, Calderon worked politics at such high levels that he should expect such scrutiny? Contreras: From here in Mexico, people aren't all that surprised Marco. The United States used Mexico City back in the days of the Cold War. This was the major spy hub in Latin America for the United States government. This was of course the place where intelligence operations were coordinated looking over all those wars that were taking place in Central America at the time. Werman: Just curious Franc, does anyone in Mexico City today remember what the US did on the soccer field last week? Contreras: Not much right now, no. Werman: Journalist Franc Contreras reporting from Mexico City. Always great to speak Franc, thanks a lot. Contreras: Thank you Marco. Pleasure.