Monday, February 16

Earth to President Obama: Our neighbor Mexico is in dire straits

October 28, 2008, Asia Times:
[...] Mexico in some ways is the most worrying place in the Western hemisphere. A low-level civil war between the drug cartels and the federal government has been fought over the past two years, and the cartels are winning. Senior Mexican officials charged with suppression of the cartels have been moving their families quietly out of the country.

The collapse of the oil price and the likely collapse of remittances from Mexicans in the United States threaten the stability of the financial system, and the Mexican peso has lost nearly 40% of its value during the past several weeks.

With the collapse of the American construction industry, a major source of employment for illegal Mexican immigrants to the US, the economic safety valve has broken, and the cartels have in inexhaustible supply of young men willing to risk their lives for a living. [...]
-- from Spengler's The world isn't flat, it's flattened
November 25, 2008; NPR
Mexican Remittances Fall As U.S. Jobs Are Slashed

Mexicans working in the U.S. are being hit hard by the economic slowdown, and that is hurting their homeland.

Remittances are Mexico's second-largest source of foreign currency after oil exports, and the Mexican central bank reports these funds are drying up rapidly. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are expected to return home in the coming months to villages with few job prospects. [...]
Now is there anyone who still doesn't understand why I wrote in 2005 that Vicente Fox was going straight to hell?

The same thought applies to Tony Blair, the World Bank, the IMF, and all the rest who indiscriminately pushed remittances at the official level as an integral part of a developing nation's economy, all because China was breathing down their necks about the issue. But that this was done with Mexico -- in lieu of raising taxes just a tad, which the elite there did not want done -- is a crime against humanity.

The poorest in Mexico don't have the entitlements safety nets and the local nonprofit aid groups that the developed countries have. So of course when the construction jobs tanked in the United States, Mexicans who earned a living here from the jobs, and whose remittances kept relatives back home from starvation, returned to starvation circumstances -- for themselves and their relatives.

Read the rest of the NPR report by Jason Beaubien for a small idea of how bad things are in Mexico these days. Then do not ask why this is happening, right in the capital of Mexico:
MEXICO CITY -- The Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels are waging "a war" to control the trade in illicit substances in this capital, Mexican federal police commissioner Rodrigo Esparza said. [...]

Armed groups linked to the drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people nationwide in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the 2008 death toll soaring to 5,630, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily El Universal.

According to press reports, some 750 people have died in drug-related violence across Mexico so far this year.

Since taking office in late 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed federal police and soldiers across the country in a crackdown on drug gangs battling over supply routes to the United States.

But that effort has thus far been unsuccessful in stemming the violence.(1)
So here is another tip for our new President. This link is to a map of the world. After noting the proximity of the United States to Mexico, would you please kindly instruct your security advisors, your entire Cabinet such as it exists, and the U.S. Department of State to wrench their attention from Europe, Asia and the Middle East long enough to put their full attention on Mexico for 15 minutes?

That's another way of saying that Secretary Clinton's first official trip abroad should have been to Mexico, not Japan.

Wake up. You've been in office less than a month and already you've managed to offend our northern neighbor because of the Buy America nonsense. Whatever you might think of NAFTA, the U.S. has sunk so much into the agreement that by now all of Mexico should look like Orange County. Instead, the situation there is a debacle.

If you think of your neighbors first, they'll think of you first. There was never a time before now that the United States has so much needed to be on good terms with its neighbors. U.S. foreign policy needs to reflect that reality.

1) I assume the date of the report was sometime last week; I picked it up on the 14th, which is the closest I can come to nailing down the date of publication.

Note to the Latin American Herald Tribune Editor: If you want to make your site "the main source of news for the English-reading public about Latin America," would you please kindly remember to add the date of your reports to the online page> Or at the least, add the date to the link for the report? If you have squirreled the date somewhere on the page where only a squirrel can find it, please put it where a busy blogger can spot it immediately. Thank you.

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