New Publication: Echoes of 1992: The NAFTA Negotiations and North America Now

December 17, 2014

firmaTwo decades ago, Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a continental economy. The road to integration from the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement has not been a smooth one. Along the way, Mexico lived through a currency crisis, a democratic transition, and the rising challenge of Asian manufacturing. Canada stayed united despite surging Quebecois nationalism during the 1990s; since then, it has seen dramatic economic changes with the explosion of hydrocarbon production and a much stronger currency. The United States saw a stock-market bust, the shock of 9/11, and the near-collapse of its financial system. All of these events have transformed the relationships that emerged after NAFTA entered into force in 1994.

Given the tremendous changes, one might be skeptical that the circumstances and details of the negotiation and ratification of NAFTA hold lessons for the future of North America. However, the road to NAFTA had its own difficulties, and many of the issues involved in the negotiations underpin today’s challenges. NAFTA was conceived at a time of profound change in the international system. When Mexican leaders surveyed the world two decades ago, they saw emerging regional groupings in Europe, Asia, and South America. Faced with a lack of interest or compatibility, they instead doubled down on North America. How did Mexican leaders reconsider their national interests and redefine Mexico’s role in the world in light of those transformations? Unpublished Mexican documents from SECOFI, the secretariate most involved in negotiating NAFTA, help illustrate Mexican thinking about its interests and role at that time. Combining those insights with analysis of newly available evidence from U.S. presidential archives, this paper sheds light on the negotiations that concluded two decades ago.

Read the publication here.


New Era in Immigration Enforcement at the U.S. Southwest Border

December 17, 2014

12/16/2014 Migration Policy Institute

fence at borderThis year marked a transition to a new chapter in the United States’ three decade-long effort to limit illegal immigration across the Southwest border. Previously, border crossers were primarily Mexican men pursuing employment, with most attempting entry in Arizona and California. The flow has increasingly shifted to Southeast Texas and from predominantly Mexican to majority Central American since 2012, with a rising share of children and families included in the stream. That trend was sharply underscored in the late spring and summer of 2014, with the surge in arrivals of unaccompanied children and parents with young children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Read more…


New Publication: Integrating North America’s Energy: A Call for Action

December 17, 2014

By Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute

stock-footage-montage-of-clean-energy-fossil-fuel-pollutionIn February 2014, the leaders of the three North American nations met in Toluca, Mexico, and determined a range of measures to enhance regional competitiveness, including new initiatives on transportation infrastructure, borders and research cooperation. Furthermore, the leaders agreed that, before the end of 2014, a North American Energy Ministers Meeting should take place to “define areas for strong trialteral cooperation on energy.” What these areas might be is still unannounced, but with the successful passage of energy reform legislation through Mexico’s Congress in December 2013, and secondary legislation in August 2014, many of the previously existing barriers to cooperation on oil and gas markets have now disappeared.

The prospects for an energy abundant North America are compelling. Combined, the three countries’ oil production compares favorably with those of the Middle East. As the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer, and with both Mexico and Canada on the verge of significant increases in production, North America’s long-standing position as a hydrocarbons importer will then be reversed. The outlook for North American energy is therefore bright, and the transformation in the regional energy paradigm has been dramatic. However, to achieve the full potential of this newly discovered regional energy wealth, it will be necessary to more fully integrate the three countries’ energy markets. This paper argues that, in order to make North American energy independence a reality, there are several main areas that require attention from the three governments, working together, to make the transition to an integrated North American energy system.

Read the report here.


6 Dead in Clash Between Mexican Vigilante Groups

December 17, 2014

11/16/2014 The Washington Post

m16 gun closeupA clash between two rival “self-defense” groups in the western state of Michoacan on Tuesday left six people dead, including the son of one of the group’s founders, officials and militia members said.

Alfredo Castillo, the federal government’s security commissioner for Michoacan, told Grupo Formula radio that the groups fought at a barricade at the entrance to the community of La Ruana. He said it appeared that four from one side had been killed and two from the other.

“La Ruana is the only place where we have two leaders with influence,” Castillo said.

Read more…


As Outrage over Iguala Continues, Mexican President Calls for Police Reform

December 16, 2014

12/13/2014 Fronteras Radio

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Mexico’s president wants to change his country’s constitution to replace local police with state police. He also wants legal authority to take over municipal governments infiltrated by organized crime.

But ongoing protests and recent polls suggest Mexicans aren’t convinced the change will make a difference.

The move follows disgust in Mexico over a long delay by the federal government to investigate the murders of 43 college students….

Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute, is quoted, stating “What Iguala has reminded Mexicans is that there are some really major parts of the foundations of the rule of law in the country that are still very weak.”

Read more…


Mexican Chamber of Deputies approves an historic reform on science and technology.

December 16, 2014


“I cannot fail to mention the ‘High-Level Innovation Forum for Policymakers’ organized by the IDEA Foundation and the Wilson Center in the last two years in Washington DC. To all who participated in the organization of those forums my deepest appreciation and gratitude. This reform is because of you. The science, technology and innovation reform will be for the benefit of our common goal that is Mexico,” said the Federal Deputy, when addressing the floor, referring to the two High-Level Innovation Forums organized by the Mexico Institute for Mexican Legislators in 2013 and 2014 in Washington, D.C.

The Chamber of Deputies just approved the reforms on the federal laws on Science and Technology and Federal Administrative Responsibility  the with 373 votes in favor and none against.

The reform establishes a regulation to foster technology transfer that will allow the researchers of public institutions to link-up with the private sector. It will also let academics create their own companies to foster the innovation in the country.

“It is a a historic step for the development of science in Mexico,” said Deputy Irazema González, secretary of the Commission of Science and Technology.

As a summary of the Forum held in 2013, the Mexico Institute launched the report “Fostering Innovation in Mexico.” The publication addresses some of the key issues to understand the innovation in the changing global economy, as well as way to promote an ecosystem of innovation in Mexico.

To access the English version of the report: http://bit.ly/1swUmS8

For the Spanish version: http://bit.ly/1swUtgn


Mexican Judge Frees 2 Witnesses to Army Killings

December 16, 2014

12/15/2014 The Washington Post

justice - gavelA federal judge dismissed criminal charges on Monday against two women who witnessed the June 30 army killing of suspected drug gang members in southern Mexico.

The judge in Mexico state ordered their immediate release after federal prosecutors failed to bring charges. The women had been held in a prison in western Nayarit state for more than five months for allegedly possessing weapons.

The two survived the mass slaying of the 22 suspected gang members and were jailed in violation of their human rights, after they were tortured and sexually threatened into backing the army’s version of the incident, according to Raul Plascencia, the former president of the National Commission on Human Rights who oversaw the commission’s investigation into the slayings.

Read more…


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