Jonathan J. Higuera

Mexico and U.S. stars align – finally

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Gnombre picks up steam

Every 12 years, Mexico and the U.S. share a presidential election. This year, 2012, happens to be one of those years. So, the folks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Sunnylands, which hosts Annenberg retreats, also thought it would be a good opportunity to bring Latin America back into U.S. foreign policy discussions in a meaningful way.

As you may have noticed, Latin America has been relegated to a footnote in many policy discussions since September 11, 2001. Security, democracy and economic development discussions have largely focused on the Middle East. With the exception of Mexico’s narcotraficante woes and border issues, Latin America’s burgeoning democracies have gone largely ignored.

Unfortunately, the recommendations put forth to help forge a stronger relationship lack creativity and concrete strategies, some critics maintain.

Several of the recommendations take a page from the Arizona-Mexico Commission, which has been trying to forge closer business ties between Arizona and Mexico since it was created in 1972. In fact, representatives from Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora have been meeting since 1959, precursors to the current commission.

Still, the effort to shift some focus back onto Mexico, which is the U.S.’s second-leading trade partner after Canada, deserves the effort. Even Governor Jan Brewer has recognized this point. In July, she appointed former Arizona congressman, Jim Kolbe, to co-chair the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance to study border infrastructure, border-entry capacity and strengthen business ties between Arizona and Sonora.

The Alliance is made up of 26 state and local experts in government, transportation, international trade and energy.

Among the more interesting recommendations made by the Woodrow Wilson Center was to create a joint North American Production and Export Platform, greater U.S. support for Mexican judicial reforms, and develop an ambitious public-private educational exchange that will tap Mexican post-graduates to help fill cultural and language competencies needed in the U.S.

Considering that the trade between Mexico and the U.S. is worth nearly $500 billion annually, the recommendations are worth serious consideration. 

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