Legalization of drugs would end the gangland violence that has cost tens of thousands of lives in Mexico, former President Vicente Fox said, blaming successor Felipe Calderon for the carnage.

Calderon "does have something to hide: 80,000 deaths in his (2006-2012) administration," Fox told the Spanish publication Que when asked about his successor's call for Mexico to formally protest U.S. spying on Mexican officials.

As for whether legalization would end Mexico's problem with drug violence, Fox said: "Certainly, it would be the grand solution."

"The United Nations is already moving in that direction," Fox said. "We are all saying that we must end prohibition and move to a phase of (drug) regulation."

Fox and Calderon both belong to the conservative National Action Party, or PAN.

Though Fox was hardly soft on Mexico's drug cartels, Calderon militarized and vastly escalated the campaign against the drug trade, resulting in an unprecedented explosion of violence.

The former Coca-Cola executive who governed Mexico from 2000-2006 minimized recent revelations that the U.S. intelligence services spied on Mexican leaders.

"I have always known that they spied on me, though I have never denounced it. I know they spied on me when I was a candidate and when I was president," Fox said.

In the grip of a "terrible complex of fear," the U.S. government reacted to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by "building a wall," the Mexican said.

"They think everybody is going to attack them and they garner more and more hostility at the global level for that attitude," Fox said. EFE