Seneca: Musings on Current US-Mexico ties

February 2nd, 2011 · 5 Comments

By Seneca

US-Mexico relations have clearly had a rough time in 2010. Mexico’s seeming inability to deal with the increased violence south of the border plus the disruptive and unfortunate so-called Wikileaks has made many policy-makers pause on both sides of the border.

These Wikileaks have become a serious diplomatic embarrassment to the US world-wide. But in the case of Mexico they may have created even greater tensions given the timing. Official and personal assessments in diplomatic reporting are never meant for public disclosure. Yet everyone knows that diplomats carry out their duty by reporting situations as they see them. Hence, awkward situations are created when revelations of this reporting plainly embarrass both the US and Mexico.  But the underlying problem is that relations are managed by both sides in an equally clumsy if not maladroit manner.

The Mexicans rely primarily on their nationalistic Foreign Ministry (SRE). This limits other actors or constituencies from having a more substantial role. Whereas on the US side even though Mexico is a NAFTA country, the bi-lateral relationship is still managed like the rest of Latin America: too often as an afterthought. European policy in Washington is guided by the historical gravity of the Trans-Atlantic ties and their constituencies (DoD, Treasury, the banks, the Council on Foreign Relations, academia et al). Middle East policy is primarily driven by the pro-Israeli lobby and the energy sector. Africa policy is largely formulated with plenty of NGOs and the Black Congressional Caucus input. Asia policy is guided by the US Navy (DoD), Treasury, Walmart, the banks, the high tech economy and the trade sector.  Whereas, US Latin American policy, by and large a constituency orphan (except for the glandular Calle Ocho crowd and the equally emotional anti-narcotics and anti-immigrant groups) is in the virtual hands of the State Department bureaucracy. It does not attract the influential and powerful top-cover of the other regions’ constituencies. Hence, without daily guidance from on top (the White House, Wall Street, the energy sector or powerful ethnic lobbies) the State Department bureaucratic mattress mice policy-handlers are cautious, timid, risk averse, invariably resort to lecturing the Latins on the virtues of America, insensitively imparting adult supervision and placing careers first over policy (hence more responsive to the GOP members of Congress because they do threaten careers unlike the Democrats). Therefore , the WikiLeaks stories have become a real validation of Mexican (Latin) suspicions of the US lack of serious purpose or attention and only episodically engaged. Consistent and serious policy treatment by the US will only come about when the Latin Americans begin to cultivate domestic heavy hitters in the US to become their constituents or supporters. The Mexican-American community and Latinos in general are notably missing in action in any foreign policy formulation. As for the Latin Americans and especially the Mexicans, the lesson to be learned is that only weak powers largely depend on the foreign ministry of a great power for problem resolution. It is difficult to foresee how the out years will significantly improve.

Tags: drug war · Economics · Foreign Policy · GOP · Immigration · Latin American Foreign Policy · Mexico · Seneca · Wal-Mart

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chicano future tense // Feb 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

    In my opinion the title of Sr Senecas thought provoking article would be more accurately titled “Amusing Current US-Mexico ties”.

    It’s no biggie,but I just had to chuckle after reading Senecas description of Mexico’s violence…”Mexico’s seeming inability to deal with the increased violence south of the border..”

    Seeming inability?? Oh My God! about an understatement..

    I’m a very intelligent,witty handsome Mexican man, so I think I have a right to satirize my own people..
    “leave it to the Mexican government to find out what the US thinks of them by reading Wikileak “revelations”.

    but then yet again perhaps I’m being overly maladroit?

    Hell, Mexicans don’t need any damn Wikileaks to know what the US as well as the US government thinks of them.
    I mean when half of your national territory has been stolen ,your nation invaded with the red,white and blue flying over it’s capitol,your undocumented people treated like dogs and those who are “documented” treated less than second class citizens.
    pretty well delivers a strong message to you,
    ..I think..?

    The wise old saying born long before Wikileaks came on the scene said it best..
    “Mexico,so far from God,so close to the United States”
    encapsulates in a few words the entire history of Mexican-US relations.

    No Wikileaks necessary for that knowledge..

  • 2 Hose A // Feb 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Mexico needs to look inward for a solution to its problems. Blaming the USA has grown old.

  • 3 MexicanBrotherhood // Feb 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I imagine that Mexican-Americans aren’t perceived as heavy hitters or as being concerned about foreign policy in part because of the disillusionment what is going on in the US. Our communities lack information, leaders in the foreign policy realm, etc. So many young Latinos I talk to end up going into social work or law or marketing.

    As for the wikileaks, this article addresses the cables about Mexico:

    There is evidence to suggest that we should stop this charade in assisting Mexico with its (our) drug war. It’s a war that cannot be won, and we are throwing good money (borrowed money) after bad. The State Department’s own docs show that Calderon himself won’t have much influence over it. There’s definitely a disconnect between what the heads of state and even Hillary Clinton tells us about the drug situation. I think there needs to be serious talks about what can be done and even explore the decriminalization of marijuana and cocaine.

  • 4 Pablo Manriquez // Feb 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    @Hose A — Mexico has looked inward. They find drug cartels with a vast market of stateside fiends. That blaming the USA is a stale truth makes it no less true.

  • 5 India Blanca // Feb 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I wonder why it is that more substantial introspection about issues that should concern our community go almost unnoticed. Seneca has the knack for touching on issues that affect us a latins, as US hispanics and as citizens of nations who share more than just a vast border. Seneca’s insightful commentary is not able to peak the interest of even half a dozen of us. We all agree that we lack leadership, we all agree that our representatives, by and large, seem to focus on banal discussion colored by personal interests lacking the vision and the intellect to hold their own and make a mark. Yet, we, as a people seem more interested in the intimate personal details of those who speak for us than in cultivating our intellect, gaining the knowledge and skills to elevate the discourse, something we so badly need. We cannot ask to be counted when we are not even interested to know enough to count.

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