U.S. Ambassadors to Mexico: The Relationship Through Their Eyes
Sunday, March 31st, 11:00am (EST)
This Sunday on Wilson Forum three former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico sit down with author and journalist Dolia Estévez to discuss her latest book, U.S. Ambassadors to Mexico: The Relationship Through Their Eyes. The book offers a first-hand account of how U.S. ambassadors see their own role in this vital relationship. Panelists include John D. Negroponte, Former United States Ambassador to Mexico; James Jones, Mexico Institute, Advisory Board Member and Chairman, Manatt Jones Global Strategies; Jeffrey Davidow, Senior Counselor, Cohen Group.
Given our complex agenda with Mexico, loaded with irritants, one might have thought that there would be a careful and institutionalized process for selecting ambassadors, with a long period of preparation. To the contrary, Dolia Estévez’s study of the last nine US ambassadors to Mexico, all living, shows how disparate their backgrounds were, how little preparation some of them had, and how short-term political considerations motivated the appointments of several of them. Her study also shows the growing challenges over the years from 1977 to 2011 of managing the largest or next-to-largest U.S. diplomatic mission in any foreign country while a host of US agencies increasingly pursued their own bilateral agendas with their counterparts in Mexico.
The author herself conducted interviews with eight of the nine living former US ambassadors. (Only James Pilliod was not up to being interviewed.) After covering US-Mexico relations for twenty years, and having drawn frequently on Embassy cables, Dolia Estévez wanted to get the ambassadors’ personal reflections on the issues in the cables. The interviews are short and focused, and in some cases elicited remarkably frank answers. The result is a refreshingly straightforward survey of 30 years of US-Mexican relations.
The combined net worth of Mexico’s billionaires reached $148.5 billion, an increase of 18.4% from the previous year’s total of $125.1 billion. Based on the new Forbes Billionaire ranking’s data, these gains slightly outpaced the growth in the amount of wealth held by the entire 2013 billionaire list, which after adding 210 new billionaires, grew by 17.4% from $4.6 to $5.4 trillion.
The largest contributing factor to the leap in total wealth held by the super-rich in Mexico is the addition of five new-comers and two comebacks to the rankings. The new billionaires are Eva Gonda Rivera (Femsa) , Rufino Vigil Gonzalez (Industrias CH), Jose and Francisco Calderon Rojas (Coca-Cola Femsa), Max Michel Suberville (Coca-Cola Femsa) and Juan Gallardo Thurlow (Cultiba). After having fallen bellow the 1 billion benchmark a few years ago, Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala (Grupo Modelo) and Alfredo Harp Helu (Banamex) are back in the rankings. The removal of drug kingpin Joaquin El Chapo Guzman from this year’s list and the 2012 death of Roberto Gonzalez Barrera brings the total of Mexican billionaires to 15, up from 10 the previous year.
To watch additional interviews with James Jones, Former Ambassador of the United States to Mexico, and Dolia Estévez, author of U.S. Ambassadors to Mexico: The Relationship Through Their Eyes, click here.
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s one-year effort to return Acapulco to its past glory has been overshadowed by the surge in drug-related killings, which nearly tripled in 2011 and made this port city in the southern state of Guerrero the second most violent city in the world in 2012. In recent weeks Acapulco has been in the international news after five masked men broke into a beach hotel and raped six Spanish female tourists at midnight. U.S. newspapers reported that the rapes have heightened fear and called into question the Mexican government’s ability to control crime and attract foreign visitors.
The crime, which took place in one of Mexico’s best known tourist resorts, was the most recent in a series of violent episodes that has tarnished the international image of what only a few decades ago was a favorite destination for celebrities, foreign leaders and American honeymooners. Acapulco and several other top beach resort cities are the core of the tourism industry, Mexico’s third source of foreign exchange income after oil and remittances.Despite this grim picture, the Consulting Board for the Restoration of Traditional Acapulco, a group of leading Mexican businessmen created in February 2012 and headed by Slim, continues its efforts to pool funding from the state and federal governments, as well as from the private sector, to rescue Acapulco’s waterfront. “Those who do not invest and go slow because they have doubts will be left behind. I am not afraid of investing here in Acapulco,” Slim said in 2012.
Article on forthcoming book by Dolia Estévez from the Mexico Institute.
When in Mexico and there is a reference to “the ambassador,” without identifying the name or country, it is normal to assume that they speak of the U.S. ambassador. The only foreign diplomat whose views and actions can really influence the political life of Mexico. Dolia Estévez, Mexican journalist with over 20 years in Washington, D.C., interviewed the last nine U.S. ambassadors to Mexico and made a recent history book (“U.S. ambassadors to Mexico: The relationship through their eyes”) that is soon to be published and released. And though this book does not contain revelations like those provided by Wikileaks, the opinions give a glimpse of the complicated and asymmetric nature of the relationship between Mexico and their powerful northern neighbor.
Felipe Calderón concluyó cinco agitados años de gobierno en medio de claroscuros en lo que toca a las relaciones con Estados Unidos. En el lado luminoso, están las buenas calificaciones que recibió por haber aceptado niveles no vistos de ayuda en materia de seguridad, pero en el lado oscuro sobresalen reprobaciones en el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos y en la consolidación de un régimen de derecho.
Calderón merece gran crédito por haber tenido un acercamiento significativo con el gobierno norteamericano en temas de seguridad, en un marco de responsabilidad compartida”, dijo Andrew Selee, director del Instituto México del Woodrow Wilson Center.
John Bailey, especialista sobre México de la Universidad de Georgetown, reconoció a Calderón, “por haber regresado la relación a una posición fuerte después del drama de la administración Fox”. Por su parte, el embajador Cris Arcos, ex funcionario del gobierno de George W. Bush, sostuvo que el primer quinquenio de Calderón terminó con sabor “agridulce”, por lo que en su año de lame duck (maltrecho fin de mandato) tendrá tiempo y los espacios políticos para evaluar su contribución como Presidente.