The Mexican U.S. Connection
Mexico and the United States have been close together, at the same time being so far apart. Mexico and the U.S. have maintained a healthy neighbor to neighbor relationship over the centuries. There have been disputes of course, but for the most part we are working together. When striving to maintain a healthy relationship between neighboring countries, certain problems arise. When the countries don't have the same standard of living, people might try and migrate illegally to the better country. When one country has more illegal drugs than the other, people might try smuggling the drugs. Also, trade between the countries is always a factor in keeping a healthy connection.
The first issue to deal with is illegal immigration. Doris Meissner, Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner, announced the INS would pump 185 more agents and an array of equipment, including two new helicopters, seven more infrared scopes, eight miles of fencing and 172 additional sensors to detect and deter illegal immigration traffic along a 16-mile stretch between Otay Mountain and the Tecate Port of Entry. The area has been inundated by immigrant smugglers who have been forced east because of increased Border Patrol activity along the 14-mile corridor from the Pacific Ocean and Imperial Beach to Otay Mesa. The effort, known as Operation Gatekeeper, was launched in October 1994.
Meissner said the latest effort, an extension of Operation Gatekeeper, would add five Border Patrol agents on horseback to patrol the back country and three dog teams to be assigned to checkpoints along rural roads. Meissner also announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would join the operation to break up illegal smuggling rings at the border. She said the Border Patrol would step up the use of checkpoints in the Temecula area, where smugglers usually end up trying to evade the Border Patrol checkpoint. In March, a van carrying illegal immigrants overturned near there as its driver tried to avoid agents; eight illegal immigrants were killed and 18 others injured. In Los Angeles, an alleged smuggler of illegal immigrants who police say was at the wheel of a pickup truck during a chase in April which ended with the televised police beatings of two undocumented aliens from Mexico, pleaded not guilty to federal charges of transporting illegal immigrants.
Rigoberto Sosa-Padilla, 37, was arrested on May 3 while allegedly transporting 19 illegal immigrants. The beating and chase occurred April 1 when a truck allegedly driven by Sosa-Padillo and carrying more than 20 aliens led police on a 80-mile chase from Temecula to Los Angeles. Helicopter news footage showed sheriff's deputies beating two of the aliens, including a woman, with nightsticks. The deputies have been suspended and the two Mexican citizens have filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against the authorities Involved.
Next, when there is a definite powerhouse between the two, everything that happens within the powerhouse, and to the powerhouse, the sick dog on the floor is affected. "The US election may yet have an effect on Mexico: the better the protectionist Ross Perot does in the campaign the greater the danger that Mexico will become an issue. The best solution for Mexico would, clearly, be a victory for President Clinton. His policies have become pragmatic rather than doctrinaire: this attitude was demonstrated by the Helms-Burton Act: the President pulled back from implementing it though he keeps hinting that he might implement the Act's strongest provisions after the elections."
The second is the expected rise in US interest rates. Most economists are factoring in a half point rise in US interest rates either before, or more likely, immediately after the US elections on November 5th. It is not yet clear whether the Mexican stockmarket has discounted an increase in US rates. Higher US rates are likely to lead to diminished flows of cash to the Mexican market.
Also, drug trafficking is a drastic problem that is battled daily. Juan Garcia Abrego, recently added to the FBI's top 10 most wanted list, who according to FBI reports, is charged with 131 counts of drug trafficking and related crimes, is also wanted in connection with more than 70 murders. The drug kingpin's wealth is estimated between 200-million and 13-billion dollars in property and investments. Mr. Abrego is accused of heading up a huge drug trafficking operation out of northeastern Mexico, and spending millions of dollars to bribe Mexican officials under former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The cartel smuggles an estimated 20 tons of Colombian cocaine into the United States each month.
As was mentioned before, trade between the two countries can become a huge link-as well as a huge barrier. The ratification of the NAFTA produced varied responses in the Mexican political sector. Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, Secretary General of the National Action Party (PAN), believes that the NAFTA will bring foreign investment and certainty to the Mexican economy but was careful to mention that the benefits would be long term (10-12 years). However, despite his optimism he questioned the manner in which the ratification occurred and explained that it was unfortunate that the Mexican government had turned a potentially good negotiation into a political battle that they wanted to win at whatever cost. He also demanded that the Mexican government explain the last minute deals that were made to obtain votes in the U.S. Senate, request that was rejected by the PRI majority in the senate. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, presidential candidate for the National Democratic Alliance (ADN), said that it would be necessary to evaluate the impact of the NAFTA during a six month period, after which point, if found problematic, Mexico will either have to re-negotiate or withdraw from the agreement. Cardenas proposed that a commission be formed to undertake the said investigation. He emphasized his belief that the terms of the NAFTA are not the best possible deal for Mexico as they fail to address key issues such as the transfer of resources, labor mobility, social impacts, and a long-term industrial strategy.
Senate leader Emilio M. Gonzalez announced that the dictum to approve the NAFTA and its parallel accords would be presented to the Mexican senate for ratification on Friday and expressed both satisfaction and relief that the NAFTA will indeed take effect in January 1994. President Salinas made a declaration about an hour after learning the results of the vote in the U.S. Congress in which he affirmed that the ratification of the NAFTA symbolized a rejection of protectionist visions promoted by fear of competition. He said that the ratification of the NAFTA was one more step towards the creation of the largest free trade block among sovereign countries in the world. Trade Secretary Jaime Serra Puche gave a televised interview after Salinas' declaration in which he assured the Mexican public that the text of the NAFTA had not been re-opened at any point during the debate in the U.S. Congress. He also reiterated that none of the final text will be subject to re-negotiation now that the NAFTA has been passed. Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) representative Juan S. Millan said that though in the short term the NAFTA will not create solutions for all Mexican problems, in the long term, the country can have high expectations of the benefits that the NAFTA will bring. Roberto Castellanos, a Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants representative, was not quite as optimistic saying that though he believes that the NAFTA will benefit the working class by increasing employment and salaries, the debate in the U.S. Congress demonstrated the wide gap that still exists between the two countries.
Barely half an hour after the U.S. Congress approved the NAFTA, the principal organizations of the Mexican private sector announced their "wholehearted approval" of what they considered to be "one of the culminating points of Mexican history in terms of its economic relations with the rest of the world." El Financiero interviewed several prominent businessmen who agreed that the first impacts of the approval of the NAFTA will be an increase in foreign investment in Mexico, the stability of monetary markets, job creation, and the recuperation of the population's buying power. They expressed their readiness to confront the challenge of the predicted economic opening through "clear and permanent rules which will regulate trade in a climate of confidence, certainty and respect between the three signatory nations." However, several of the country's business leaders added that the challenges that the Mexican economy faces have not changed with the passage of the NAFTA and that its effects will not be immediate.
The Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC) asked the government to open spaces for public consultation and participation to deal with the repercussions of the NAFTA. RMALC representatives announced that if the NAFTA is ratified by the Mexican Senate, they will mobilize to obtain a profound re-negotiation of the NAFTA which benefits the majority of the population. According to RMALC members, the re-negotiation should include the recognition of asymmetries between the participating countries' economies and aspects of the social agenda which have been left out of the agreement. Said RMALC Director Bertha Lujan, "We still don't know the popular vote on the NAFTA."
Thus, all the factors in keeping good connections between neighboring countries have been discussed. Some out there might argue that there is more to it. This is my argument and I stand firm in the belief that Mexico and the U.S. have a steady connection and have many things that interact between them. That is what makes the Mexican-U.S. connection so beautiful.
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