U.S.-MEXICO Infinite conflict?

Nidia Diaz

CONFLICTS between Mexico and the United States have just assumed a new dimension in the wake of the announcement by President Barack Obama that 1,200 agents from the National Guard are to be added to the border detachments and patrols protecting the conflictive limits between the two countries. In passing, those limits have remained defined since the war of plunder and aggression launched by the powerful northern neighbor which seized almost half of Mexican territory in the mid-19th century.

The White House decision came immediately after a visit to the United States by President Felipe Calderón, whose speech to Congress in Washington put more than a few legislators’ backs up by listing the causes which, from the Mexican point of view, have led to the uncontrollable degree of generalized violence and crime on the border – principally on the Mexican side – which is creating a situation of ungovernability and veritable warfare within urban and rural areas of the northernmost Mexican states close to border limits with the United States.

The Mexican president, on occasions noted as a man whose positions are generally in line with those of the Washington administration, has demanded the adoption of effective policies in relation to border security on the U.S. side, tough action against drug traffickers, a real onslaught on organized crime and an end to the growing and uncontrollable trafficking of weapons, including heavy caliber ones, into Mexican territory. However, U.S. governors and legislators of border states, would seem to have had better success in securing the dispatch of more troops to the border.

Sources from the U.S. press have affirmed that these concessions on the part of President Obama in response to pressure from anti-immigrant and racist elements is a means of him gaining possible future support for the immigration reforms being demanded by the combative Latino immigrant organizations.

Obama cannot allow himself to forget that the Hispanic vote played an important part in his electoral triumph and could play a similar role in his possible reelection bid in 2012, and thus, in this issue as in many others, he will have to find a necessary balance that will not bring him into confrontation with or create contradictions in the heterogeneous and distinct forces that he has to please.

Immigration reform is, paradoxically, one of the most important and farthest-reaching challenges to which the first African-American president to reach the White House has to respond, and as quickly as possible. This is because, with every passing day, he is not only inflaming the sentiments of the many immigrants of Latino origin, now in excess of 40 million, but also creating additional tension on the border with Mexico and chilling relations between the two countries. This is occurring at a point when Mexico’s internal political situation is also agitated and has been aggravated by incidents such as the to date unresolved kidnapping of the former presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Ceballos, one of the principal leaders of the governing National Action Party (PAN) and a highly controversial figure in Mexican politics.

The Obama administration cannot lose sight of the fact that U.S.-Mexican relations are traditionally a priority interest within Washington’s foreign policy, taking into account the extensive geographical proximity; economic and commercial interests given greater impetus after the signing of the Free Trade Agreement and clearly beneficial to the United States; the existence of a mass community of Mexican or Mexican-origin immigrants (more than 12 million) and the historically conflictive links that have led the empire into aggression and warfare.

The Arizona Immigration Law (SB1070) has contributed to the even greater deterioration of these relations at a particularly conflictive moment. Moreover, it is anticipated that other states of the Union could adopt similar racist and discriminatory legislation as a means of sustaining their anti-immigrant persecution and, at the same time, place Obama in an even more difficult position, by obliging him either to define himself or maintain a culpable inaction, which would bring down on his head the repudiation of the Hispanic community that believed in his promises of justice and reform.

On the other hand, the border situation and anti-immigrant legislation – essentially anti-Mexican legislation – will have an influence on the approaching Mexican elections (2012), with electoral campaigns throwing up growing debate and different positions on these issues, and on general relations with the United States and their prospects, which could become crucial and a focus for a harsh electoral battle over the next two years.


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