The ties that bind: Obama travels to Mexico (+video)
Shared issues of border security, the economy, and immigration will likely dominate the conversation between President Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico this week.
When President Obama meets his counterpart President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico this week, three issues will likely dominate their conversation: border security, the economy, and immigration – themes that are as inextricably tied as the two nations' physical border.Skip to next paragraph
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Mexico’s new government has shifted the national conversation on security away from one of drug war to crime prevention. It has promoted its economic prospects, and promised greater opportunities for Mexicans through reforms of everything from key industries to education.
Yet drug-related violence hasn’t abated, and that’s a concern for both Mexico and its northern neighbor. At meetings last month, representatives of both governments agreed to “fundamentally restructure the way both countries manage their shared border,” according to a White House statement. The new approach aims to boost economic competitiveness and trade, improve public safety, and “welcome lawful visitors.”
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Mexico and the United States have long been important partners. But this week's meeting offers a fresh chance to expand the scope and depth of the conversation on shared issues while each side promotes domestic reform agendas – immigration in the US, and education and business reforms in Mexico – that could affect how the two nations relate into the future.
“I think the main interest is to define the relationship more broadly,” says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas in Washington. “Not walk away from or minimize the security agenda but to build a bigger story line for the relationship with Mexico.”
A competitive region
The US and Mexican economies have been in a process of “silent integration” in the two decades since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Jorge Schiavon, professor of international relations at the public university CIDE in Mexico City. Now the question is, how can the two nations compete together with the rest of the world?