Monday, October 5, 2009
National Issues, Role
Models and Mexican Foreign Policy
By Barnard R. Thompson
Following his release from
prison in early September, after serving seven years on convictions
for taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering, etc., former U.S. congressman
James Traficant (Dem., Ohio) quickly made headlines anew. Of particular interest
was his first post-confinement interview, with Greta Van Susteren* ("On the Record," Fox News on September 11), when among
other things he claimed that "Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government…."
With reference to Israeli
sway in the United States, Traficant (who in the past has bashed Israel) also said: "They're controlling much of our foreign
policy. They're influencing much of our domestic policy. (…)"
Without getting into the
argument of whether or not Israel has a stranglehold on the American government, it is interesting to assess other countries
that might like to emulate Israeli achievements with the U.S., or gain influence and benefits through friends, supporters
and expatriates similar to the advantages that Israel enjoys thanks to Jewish citizens and residents of the USA.
Mexico is an analogous case
in point—yet this should not suggest guilt by association or insinuation.
During a September 29 appearance
before members of Mexico's newly inducted Chamber of Deputies, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa Cantellano addressed
and responded to deputies of that 500-strong lower house of Congress on a variety of subjects, including immigration.
"Migration reform will continue
to be a priority matter in relations between Mexico and the United States, and it cannot be forgotten until it is resolved
in a satisfactory manner," Espinosa said. She went on to say, Mexico "has insisted
that migratory reform is a priority matter, because 98 percent of Mexicans living outside the country live in the United States,
and of those there are nearly 7 million without documents."
With respect to the protection
of human rights and individual guarantees, the foreign minister added that "Mexico has been very active in the international
area, and it has demanded that the guarantees of Mexicans be respected throughout the world, including [in] the United States."
During the more than five
hour session, and speaking about the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary Espinosa assured the members
of Congress that migration reform is a subject the Obama administration is promoting.
However, she added, at this time the Obama government does not have the needed congressional votes to move the matter
Reiterating the favorable
inclination of the Obama administration towards immigration reform in the U.S., Espinosa stated: "We must wait for the political
climate in the United States to improve in order to achieve a reform that benefits all Mexicans in that country."
Opposition party deputies
accused the foreign ministry, under President Felipe Calderón and Patricia Espinosa, of having lost not only Mexico's traditional
diplomatic leadership position at the world level, but too its past activist role. They
also said that Mexico is not taking advantage of situations such as Barack Obama being President of the United States.
Members from all six of the
opposition parties represented in the Chamber criticized the fact that Espinosa, during her initial presentation, had not
mentioned the importance of reaching a migratory agreement with the United States. Prior
to the question and answer period, they decried, all that was said about migration was "we will continue to look [for ways]
to contribute to the debate on reform."
As well, opposition party
members criticized the fact that Mexico used to be the "interlocutor" in Latin America, where the role of protagonist has
since been left to Brazil.
Espinosa countered that Mexico
has a leadership role in the Rio Group, that includes 23 Latin American
and Caribbean states, and it has led the diplomatic strategy in order to attack the crisis
due to the coup d'état in Honduras. She stated that, globally, the position of
Mexico is respected.
She also said that relations
between Presidents Calderón and Obama are good.
Members of the government's
party, the National Action Party or PAN, spoke out in defense of Espinosa and the administration. They praised the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs for its work in favor of Mexican diplomacy, plus they expressed
pride in the international leadership of President Calderón.
To this Espinosa added that
the foreign policy of Calderón is "active, responsible and effective."
Contrariwise, Porfirio Muñoz
Ledo, this time around representing the Labor Party (PT) in Congress and only just named to chair the Chamber's Foreign Affairs
Committee, was highly critical of the foreign ministry.
At one point he claimed this
Secretariat, that must serve the state, is instead being used by the government in ways that are contrary to the Mexican Constitution. Muñoz Ledo also said Mexico's foreign policy, that during the Calderón administration
has served to influence underdevelopment, aims only towards the north.
* Greta Van Susteren ("On the Record," Fox News) on September 11
Barnard Thompson, editor of MexiData.info, has spent 50 years in Mexico and Latin America, providing multinational clients with actionable
intelligence; country and political risk reporting and analysis; and business, lobbying, and problem resolution services.