By Joe Guzzardi
November 26, 2012
Mexico has a new president-elect. As is customary, one of his first official tasks will be to travel to the United States to visit the sitting president. Enrique Peña Nieto will convene with President Obama on November 27.
White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that the two leaders will discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues during their Oval Office brainstorming. Obama “welcomes the opportunity to underscore the shared values and strong bonds of friendship between the United States and Mexico."
If Peña Nieto follows his predecessors’ examples, immigration—or “migratory flow” as Mexican presidents refer to it—will be atop his agenda. After Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, Mexican presidents frequently came to the U.S. to push hard for liberalized immigration laws. Carlos Salinas Gortari, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón aggressively lobbied on U.S. soil and in Congress for open borders. Their collective efforts were turned back but not before extended, divisive Capitol Hill debates damaged bipartisan efforts on more urgent domestic issues.
Fox is still a frequent guest. In September, Fox spoke to an Arizona group promoting more trade with Mexico. During his speech, Fox urged Congress to “put aside xenophobia” and discuss amnesty.
Before it tells the U. S. how to handle its affairs, Mexico should clean up its own house. Mexico’s drug-related killings, poverty, corruption and civil rights record are the western world’s worst.
Molly Molloy, a New Mexico State University researcher put Mexico’s total drug-related death count at 100,000, twice the official estimate. Nearly 50 million Mexicans (44 percent of its population) live in poverty. During the first two years of his term, former President Calderon fined 12,000 corrupt police officers. As for civil rights, during a pre-election debate, candidate Gabriel Quadri de la Torre admitted that Mexicans “murder,” “rob,” and “imprison in dirty cells” Central American migrants, a practice he called “absolutely unacceptable.” Mexico also has the world’s highest kidnapping rate, a total that tripled during Calderón’s presidency. Every day, 50 people are kidnapped in Mexico.
Peña Nieto faces serious challenges at home, the first of which may be getting sworn in. In the days leading up to his scheduled December 1 inauguration, Peña Nieto is under siege about his election’s legitimacy. Well organized grass-roots opposition has mounted what it promises will be a protracted fight over Peña Nieto’s legality as president. Runner up Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist candidate who nearly won in 2006, hasn’t conceded yet. Instead, he’s demanding a complete vote recount and claims that the election was fraud-ridden and poisoned by Peña Nieto who acted “totally immorally.” Vote buying allegations are rampant.
Having won only 38 percent of the vote, Mexico gave Peña Nieto a narrower than expected victory over his two challengers. The Institutional Revolutionary Party’s officials predict they will not have a congressional majority. Passing much needed reform will be nearly impossible.
With so much to do at home, the new president should turn his attention to his multiple domestic nightmares. Obviously, if the U.S. enabled Peña Nieto to send an unlimited number of his poor, uneducated and unskilled north, some of the pressure on him would be alleviated.
But if Peña Nieto truly cares about his citizens, he should try to improve the Mexican economy, create more jobs and educate more people instead of shipping his unfortunate to America.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]