Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tensions on the Rise Between U.S. and Mexico

The Obama administration, during its first months in office, was preoccupied by the financial meltdown and recession and by wars in the Middle East and South Asia. As a consequence, festering problems along the U.S.-Mexico grew, yet recently burst with news of a spill-over of the drugs cartel wars to Phoenix and Houston and a string of complaints from Mexico City. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now in Mexico, the first of a parade of cabinet members (the attorney general and Homeland secretary) that will end in mid-April with President Barack Obama. The flurry of activity from Washington has not just been to assuage hurt feelings south of the border, but also reflects concern for the danger of the drug wars spreading to American cities. Just Tuesday the administration announced stepped-up assistance to Mexico, and Obama himself has hinted at sending troops to the border.

Mexico's grievances are real.The drug demand that nurtures an illegal drug industry is in the U.S.; the armaments that the drug cartels uses to outgun Mexican troops and police come from the U.S. The economic promise that was suppose to come from the North American Trade Agreement has not been totally realized, and the U.S. has recently welshed on the agreement by denying some Mexican trucks access to the Interstate. Mexico is staggering from the recession. U.S. assembly plants are laying off, remittances back home from immigrants are drying up, and even some workers are returning home. And the ancient grievance -- that the U.S. doesn't take Mexico seriously except to take advantage -- has been revived by comments out of the Obama administration. defense planners believe Mexico to be a security threat to country second only to Pakistan; officials warn that is not safe for college students to take their semester break in Mexico; unnamed officials refer to Mexico as "a failed state" and infer that it is not in control of parts of the country. President Felipe Calderon hit the ceiling with the last remark and complained of "a campaign against Mexico". So the Obama administration has much fence mending to do on the border. Maybe it can stop building new fences.(See articles in New York Times and Washington Post.)

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