The NSA in Mexico: If You Can’t Betray Your Friends, Who Can You Betray? – The Expert Take

By David A. Shirk

Paraphrasing Bismarck: in statecraft, there are no amigos, only interests.

This truism of realpolitick has been underscored by revelations in recent months that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been tapping the electronic and wireless communications of its closest allies, including Mexico. Documents released this summer by Richard Snowden, a former-U.S. government contractor now living in exile in Russia, provide evidence that the NSA gained access to the official public email addresses used by the Mexican president and other government agencies, as well as the private communications of then-candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and his nine closest collaborators.

The NSA wiretapping scandal has provoked outrage around the world because of the apparently indiscriminate nature of the intrusions, but reactions have also varied. Germany has arguably been the most vocal critic, after learning that NSA tapped the official cell phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. France declared the NSA practices “shocking” and “unacceptable.” Brazil, too, has voiced strong objections, and has even considered retaliating through trade measures, particularly after learning that NSA intelligence gathering appears to have served U.S. economic interests. Russia, of course, thumbed its nose at the United States by offering Snowden a one-year visa and, recently, a job.

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In Bed with the Bully: Consensual U.S. Surveillance in Mexico – Op ed

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoNorth American Congress on Latin America, 11/07/2013

The revelations leaked by Edward Snowden that the NSA committed acts of espionage against top Mexican officials and the president himself have so far provoked only mild indignation from the Mexican political class. Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade appeared to be reassured by President Obama’s ‘word’ that he would launch an investigation into the workings of the U.S. government. Notwithstanding the incongruity that any government investigating its own internal wrongdoing would have any interest in publicizing conclusive evidence of its own criminal activity, President Peña Nieto has been reluctant to push the Obama administration further on the issue, presumably for fear of undermining Mexico’s position as a staunch U.S. economic and political ally.

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NSA Spying Scandal, Immigration Reform, and Peña Nieto’s Need to Present a Law-Enforcement Strategy

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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 the press largely covered the NSA spying scandal of worldwide leaders. According to CNN, the National Security Agency “systematically” eavesdropped on the Mexican government. It hacked the public e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which was also used by Cabinet members. According to the news outlet, Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement “This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and against Mexican and international law”.  The New York Times stated that Felipe Calderon declared that the spying was an affront to Mexican institutions that should be addressed by current Mexican authorities. Calderon also said he will closely follow the efforts by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department to get an explanation from the United States. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Times noted that although Mexico’s foreign and interior ministers held news conferences Tuesday to complain, many saw it as an expression of outrage carefully muted to ensure that Mexico didn’t do too much damage to its relationship with the U.S. The Newspaper concluded that the U.S. and Mexico are a pair of classic “frenemies” who can’t help offending each other yet can’t quite seem to quit each other either.

Continue reading “NSA Spying Scandal, Immigration Reform, and Peña Nieto’s Need to Present a Law-Enforcement Strategy”

Tangled U.S.-Mexico ties on display amid spying outrage

Los Angeles Times, 10/24/2013

felipe-calderon2Though individual Mexicans’ opinions about the United States are complicated, many cling to the opinion that the U.S. is a brash cowboy of a country. It is a view, at least as old as the 1846 U.S. invasion of Mexico, that has gained new traction this week after the German magazine Der Spiegel published an article alleging that the U.S. National Security Agency had hacked the email account of former President Felipe Calderon, one of the most pro-U.S. presidents in recent Mexican history.

The U.S. and Mexico are frenemies that can’t help offending – yet still need – each other.

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Mexico demands investigation into reports of U.S. spying

Jose Antonio MeadeThe Los Angeles Times, 10/22/2013

Mexico on Tuesday ramped up its protest over reports that the United States spied on numerous senior Mexican leaders, including the country’s current and former presidents.

Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade, speaking in Geneva, said Washington’s explanations were insufficient. “Mexico insists … there is no room for explanations,” he said. “But, rather, a timely investigation with clear responsibilities and swift corrective measures.”

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Calderon: Reported US Spying an ‘Insult’ to Mexico

calderonThe New York Times, 10/21/2013

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Monday that the spying the U.S. reportedly did on his presidential email system was an affront to Mexican institutions that should be addressed by current Mexico authorities.

“This is an insult to the country’s institutions, more than to a person, since this was done when I was president of the republic,” Calderon wrote in a tweet.

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Mexico lashes out against report of U.S. spying

CNN, 10/21/2013

felipe-calderon2According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, the National Security Agency “systematically” eavesdropped on the government. It hacked the public e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which was also used by Cabinet members, Der Spiegel said.

 

The magazine quoted documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and against Mexican and international law,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement. It added that it would push for speedy investigation.

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Biden Backs Mexico’s Economic Overhaul

The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/2013

U.S. Vice PresidJoe Bidenent Joe Biden, sidestepping controversy from a recent spying scandal involving Mexico’s president, offered an olive branch of sorts on Friday by strongly backing the Mexican government’s plans for an economic overhaul as well as proposed immigration changes in the U.S.

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The Approval of the Education Reform, Teachers’ protests and NSA Spying of Enrique Peña Nieto – Weekly News Summary: September 6

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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 the press largely covered the approval of the Education Reform in the midst of the teachers’ protests. Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a reform of the notoriously dysfunctional public school system early Wednesday, handing President Enrique Pena Nieto an important victory in his push to remake some of his country’s worst-run institutions.

The New York Times noted that despite being considered a major step toward instituting evaluations of public schoolteachers and ending their practice of buying and inheriting their posts, analysts allege violent protests by teachers had led Congress to include provisions in the new legislation that might undermine the overhaul. The pressure resulted in concessions that “diluted key aspects” of the original plan like the provision that mandatory evaluations would remain confidential.

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Obama promises NSA spy probe, says Mexican leader Pena Nieto

BBC, 9/6/2013

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoUS President Barack Obama has promised to investigate allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on his Mexican and Brazilian counterparts, Mexico’s leader has told the BBC.

 

President Enrique Pena Nieto said if the claims were true, Mr Obama had pledged to impose suitable penalties. The allegations were made by a journalist who obtained secret files from fugitive US leaker Edward Snowden. Brazil said if proven they were an unacceptable violation of sovereignty.

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