On Thursday, Mexican President Felipé Calderón will become just the 106th foreign leader to address a joint session of Congress, a rare honor for visiting dignitaries. The honor is entirely appropriate given the vital U.S.-Mexico relationship, and comes at a crucial moment.
Last year was an extremely difficult one for Mexico. With an economy intimately linked to the crisis-stricken United States, Mexico suffered a nearly unprecedented economic contraction of 7 percent. Oil production, once a reliable cash cow for the government, fell 7 percent.
The swine flu pandemic killed many and did untold damage to the vital tourism industry. Most horrifically, more than 6,500 people died in drug cartel-related violence.
It is wrongheaded to view these as exclusively Mexican problems. They reveal the interconnectedness of the United States and its southern neighbor.
Hamilton is the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He served as a U.S. representative from Indiana from 1965 to 1999.