“While US immigration policy is a sovereign concern, the country does not function in a void. Major demographic, economic, and social changes are sweeping across Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that are altering the dynamics of the regional migration system and challenging the status quo.”
The auto industry’s love affair with Mexico seems to know no bounds these days. Just days after Japan’s Honda announced the creation of a $470m transmission plant in the country, it was the turn of Audi to laid the foundation stone for a $1.3bn assembly plant in Mexico over the weekend. Aimed at challenging BMW’s global leadership of the international luxury SUV market, the new factory is expected to come on stream in 2016, building 150,000 Q5 SUVs a year. In addition, Rupert Stadler, Audi’s chief executive, said the company is mulling a Q6 version that would double the plant’s capacity.
The plant is being build at San José Chiapa between the city of Puebla and the port of Veracruz, handily located for shipment of vehicles to the US eastern seaboard and Europe. While many of the new investment in Mexico’s export-led auto industry has been heading to the nation’s Colonial heartland and further north, Puebla is a home-from-home for German carmaker Volkswagen, the parent company of Audi.
Latin America’s two largest nations are vying for economic and diplomatic clout as their candidates face off as finalists to head the World Trade Organization. The WTO is scheduled to name by May 8 the first director- general from Latin America in its 18-year history. It will choose between Roberto Azevedo, Brazil (BZGDGDP4)’s representative to the Geneva-based group, and Herminio Blanco, a former Mexico trade minister who led the nation’s negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada. The winner will replace the outgoing WTO chief, France’s Pascal Lamy, in September.
The race is a contest for diplomatic prowess as Mexico draws on its faster growth and more open economy to fortify its candidate, said Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. Analysts polled by Bloomberg forecast Mexico will outgrow its southern peer for the third straight year in 2013, reversing a trend that allowed Brazil to pull ahead as the region’s largest market in 2005. “There’s rivalry and competition there,” Shifter said by telephone from Washington. “Mexico is feeling very confident. As they seek to gain more international clout, Brazil is on their mind.”
Neighbors in Arms: How US guns are turning Central America into one of the most dangerous places in the worldMay 6, 2013
When President Barack Obama meets with various Central American leaders in Costa Rica this weekend, he will likely face criticism of U.S. domestic firearm laws. Like Mexico, where he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto on May 2, Central American countries have increasingly raised concerns about U.S. firearms trafficking. They have good reason to do so: more and more arms that originated in the United States are being used in violent crimes across the region. And given the recent death of background check legislation in the U.S. Senate, Obama may find it difficult to reassure his critics that the United States is effectively tackling the problem at home.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on U.S. firearms trafficking and an analysis of related U.S. prosecutions, thousands of U.S.-origin firearms (firearms that were either manufactured or imported into the United States) are finding their way to criminals in Central America in the last few years. The flow of U.S. weapons is heaviest to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — all among the top 10 most violent countries in the world.
According to a new Woodrow Wilson Center report focusing on Guatemala, ATF discovered that 2,687 (or 40 percent) of the 6,000 seized firearms it analyzed from just one Guatemalan military bunker in 2009 originated in the United States. In the past five years, there have also been at least 34 U.S. prosecutions related to American firearms trafficking to Guatemala involving a total of 604 U.S.-origin firearms.
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
This week, President Obama met with Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto. During his visit Obama sought to recast the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship in terms of economic and not just security, cooperation. He called for an end to “old stereotypes” and a need “to recognize new realities.” In an op-ed for Fox News Latino, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza argued the time is ripe to advance bilateral relations in terms of security, migration and trade.
Years of “unprecedented closeness” and security cooperation between U.S. and Mexican intelligence agencies were said to be in jeopardy. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, TIME Magazine and The Washington Post all commented on the current Mexican government’s decision to curb American involvement in the war against violent drug cartels.
Two recently conducted surveys – one prepared by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson Center; the other by the Pew Research Center – presented interesting results regarding American attitudes towards Mexico and Mexican views towards Americans.
The Peña Nieto administration’s reformist agenda enjoyed yet another victory when a bill to reform Mexico’s tightly controlled telecommunications sector won final approval in the Mexican Congress. Despite this, however, Reuters reported on the growing tensions within the Pacto por México, and said further cooperation between the three main political parties would likely be put on hold until a vote-buying scandal is resolved. Meanwhile, The Christian Science Monitor reported on the joint bid by San Diego and Tijuana to hold the first U.S.-Mexico cross-border Olympic games in 2024.
Calling for an end to “old stereotypes,” President Barack Obama on Friday portrayed Mexico as an emerging nation that is remaking itself and said the U.S.-Mexico relationship should be defined by shared prosperity, not by threats that both countries face. “It’s time to recognize new realities,” he declared.
In a speech to a predominantly student audience, Obama conceded that the root of much violence in Mexico is the demand for drugs in the United States, and acknowledged that most guns used to commit crime in this country come from the U.S. But he said an improving economy is changing Mexico and improving its middle class.
At a time when the Mexican and United States governments are looking for an opportunity to diversify the bilateral agenda and strengthen the economic relationship, there is an urgent need to focus on the long term challenges of competitiveness and human capital in the region. Questions of infrastructure, standards, border procedures and energy are all crucial to this equation, but an emerging issue that has been little discussed in the public sphere is that of educational cooperation. Several experts and government officials have long recognized this as a potential growth area in the bilateral relationship, but there are now greater opportunities than ever to further develop educational collaboration.
United States President Barack Obama travels to Latin America today for a three-day visit with stops in Mexico where he will meet with the newly-inaugurated President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he will meet with the presidents of Central America and the Dominican Republic. While Mexican, Central American and US leaders look to broaden the discussion points beyond a narrow focus on security, noticeably absent in their public pronouncements have been questions about democracy and human rights.
Reforma‘s most recent poll reveals that President Obama is viewed favorably amongst most Mexicans–especially those who live in the northern part of the country. Other findings indicate that people under 30 years and Mexicans with a university degree have a positive view of the President of the United States.