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Hosting the G20, Mexico is 'Greece no more'

Mexico is increasingly speaking as a world leader as it shed its image as the 'Greece of the '80s and '90s,' when it suffered excruciating debt and monetary crises.

By Staff writer / June 18, 2012

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (L) and Mexico's Economic Secretary Bruno Ferrari talk before the opening of a panel prior to the G20 summit in Los Cabos June 17. G20 leaders will kick off two days of meetings in the Pacific resort of Los Cabos on Monday.

Andres Stapff/REUTERS

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Mexico City

Mexico doesn't often bask in the glow of good news.

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Europe Bureau Chief

Sara Miller Llana moved to Paris in April 2013 to become the Monitor's Europe Bureau Chief. Previously she was the paper's Latin America Bureau Chief, based in Mexico City, from 2006 to 2013.

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But, at least for today, it is hosting the G20 in Los Cabos in Baja California, the first time the event is being held in Latin America

The mood at the annual summit of the world's leading economies is anything but upbeat, despite a temporary sigh of relief that Greeks elected into office the pro-bailout candidate – averting, at least temporarily, an immediate meltdown in the European Union.

As it has for the third year in a row, the eurozone crisis will be at the center of G20 talks. But at least Mexico, along with a host of developing countries in Latin America, is on the right side of macroeconomic stability, after finding itself at the center of economic crises in the '80s and '90s.

The expectations are not high that the G20 is actually going to solve any of the globe's problems, but it does give Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who is at the end of his presidency and constitutionally barred from running for re-election, perhaps his last opportunity to put Mexico on the international stage for something other than the grisly drug violence that has dominated world headlines.

“A lot of countries are belly up and we are not. We have ideas about how to face these things,” says David Mena Alemán, a professor of international affairs at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City. “In other conditions there are things that would have detracted from any prestige or recognition of the Mexican government – why there are so many poor, why we are sending so many people to US, and all the drug trafficking – but there is a mega crisis out there, and [countries] are willing to listen to how we dealt with it and how we are dealing with it.”

Leaders of the G20, who began arriving in Mexico on Sunday, were holding their breath over the outcome in Greece. The New Democracy party, which favors the terms of a EU bailout, won. Had the leftist party Syriza taken the race, rejecting the austerity placed on the nation, panic in the markets would have taken every ounce of leaders' energy at the G20 as the EU may have been faced with the unprecedented consequence of a country leaving the eurozone.

While President Calderon has downplayed expectations of what the meeting can accomplish, he has said that the meeting could produce more funds for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), without the contribution of the US – a small example of the new voice that lesser developed nations have won through the years, particularly as their economic health has remained solid despite the world financial crisis. (The US is bowing out of funding what has been portrayed as a bailout for Europe.)

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