Mexico’s President Calderon Visits Washington

Today, Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon’s, is in Washington on his first official state visit to the US.   To understand the context behind this visit, check out the section on US-Mexico relations in the August 2009 edition of the World Savvy Monitor.  Below is an excerpt from this section that may help shed light on Calderon’s visit:

An overriding factor in US-Mexican relations is asymmetry.

  • Obama in MexicoThe US has always been the more dominant partner, by virtue of its size, the strength of its economy, and its geopolitical influence.  The exception is US dependence on Mexican oil.  Mexico is the second-largest oil exporter to the US.
  • Located next door to a world superpower is a tricky place to be – not only because US influence is so strong, but because its attention to Mexican concerns has often been sporadic.
  • Mexico has, at times, retaliated by taking positions on the international stage that run counter to US interests.  These include Mexico’s decision not to support the US invasion of Iraq, and displays of camaraderie with US enemies such as Venezuela and Cuba.

In 2009, President Obama embarked on what has been framed as a new era in US-Mexican relations.  Well-publicized issues surrounding drug violence and immigration have elevated Mexican policy in the new President’s priorities.  On his highly scripted visit to Mexico City in April, he announced that he was there “to launch a new era of partnership… built on an even firmer foundation of mutual responsibility, mutual respect, and mutual interest.”

This has been accompanied by a billion dollar (mostly military) initiative to help Mexico deal with increasing drug violence, known as the Merida Initiative.  Critics of this initiative believe the solutions to mounting border crises lie not in more sophisticated weaponry for Mexican drug officials or in more immigration controls, but in reducing the glaring inequality between the two countries that lies at the root of many of these crises.

As globalization has progressed, the US and Mexico (and Canada) have become more interdependent, and it is unlikely that this trend will reverse, despite the global economic recession.  But this remains an asymmetrical interdependence, as Mexico is in a more vulnerable position and more easily buffeted by political, economic, and social trends at play inside its larger neighbors.

Read more….

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