On Saturday December 1st, Mexico will have a new president: Enrique Peña Nieto. President Obama said he was confident Mexico and the United States will be able to strengthen longstanding economic and trade ties, as well as increase security along their common border. He also said he would press ahead with comprehensive immigration reform and looked forward to cooperation from Peña Nieto in longstanding U.S. efforts to stem illegal immigration from Mexico.
The dominant issue at the moment in Mexico is the high violence rate suffered by the country due to the drug cartels fighting their trafficking channels and drug production. It makes sense for President Obama to discuss the security at the border because drug cartel violence in Mexico may spread to the United States. Currently, Peña Nieto, of the PRI (Institutional Revoluntionary Party), claims that his first order as President will be to find a way to reduce the amount of violence associated with drug trafficking. However, this battle has been going on since former President Calderon was in power. Under Calderon, dozens of thousands of Mexicans have died in his so called “war on drugs.” The election of Peña Nieto does not guarantee that drug cartel violence will disappear; on the contrary, it might worsen with the return of PRI to power. The country is now fractioned into different cartel dominated areas and politically speaking, the division is extremely visible, even if the media (national and international) try to hide it.
Economic gain is usually dictated by politicians. Thus, I highly doubt President Obama will want to do anything to stop current trade ties with Mexico. However, being aware of the current situation in Mexico, more factors need to be considered when continuing such a close relationship with the new Mexican President. There needs to be sincere communication about the actions both want to accomplish and not just do the typical “political show” (literally speaking). If the situation in Mexico does not improve, the United States will experience more waves of immigration, the drug cartel violence will jump the border into the US, just as it jumped from Colombia to Mexico.
I’m curious about the agreement both presidents will reach concerning immigration. In the end, it is a topic that concerns both countries. Let’s hope that is not just political talk either.