From left to right: Presidents Calderon and
Obama, and Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, at the annual
summit of the ‘Three
Amigos,’ April 2.
The Stakes are High for Mexico as Calderón Visits Washington
“Right now, the name of the game is governance for the good of Mexico and
the region as a whole. That must be Calderon’s strategy, and the cornerstone of
his speech to his peers at the summit with Harper and Obama. This must also be the priority of the presidential candidates and the whole of civil society, which is in the midst of an electoral process. We cannot afford to fall victim to easy temptation, seeking short-term victory at all costs, without understanding that in doing so, we jeopardize the viability of a nation that once again will be sacrificed.”
The tragic death of Interior Secretary Francisco Blake in
November 2011 forced the annual trilateral summit of Mexico, the United States
and Canada that should have taken place in Honolulu to be postponed. After some
negotiations, it will finally take place today in Washington.
Apart from the official agenda, which at the time included
security issues, trade issues and preparations for the Summit of the Americas,
it is understandable that there are now more sensitive topics to be addressed
by the three heads of state, and that they would have to deal with the election
situation in Mexico and the United States. In our case in particular, back
then, the presidential candidates of the three major political parties were yet
to be defined, and the campaigns were still a good distance away.
But the agenda for the trilateral meeting has not substantially
changed. The Summit of North American Leaders plans to address “issues of
cooperation involving the United States, Canada and Mexico, with a particular
emphasis on economic growth, competitiveness, security, energy and climate
change,” according to the statement issued by the White House. However, circumstances
have indeed changed.
The meeting comes right at the start of the presidential
campaigns and in a situation in which the leader in the polls [Enrique Peña Nieto]
is well ahead of his three contenders. President Calderon is prohibited from
making statements that could be interpreted within the context of the campaign,
but he is expected to take the chance to highlight the achievements of his
government in relation to our neighbors and strategic partners. And it is
precisely this strategic relationship that must be addressed with the same care
that the Foreign Ministry has taken.
The priority of the Felipe Calderon Administration should be
to ensure good governance, not only for the campaign, but during the election
itself and its aftermath, so the transition between governments can be accomplished
as smoothly and with as much certainty as the nation, its citizens and the
entire region require. This must be one of the key issues of discussion during Calderon’s
bilateral meeting with Obama because of the impact that a loss of institutional
control would have, not only in our country, but on the economies of the other
two countries as well, particularly in these turbulent times internationally.
The Summit of the Leaders of North America is an exceptional
opportunity to provide the needed certainty to our strategic partners, but it is
also something that needs to be done in the interests of Calderon’s constituents.
And that is not the sole responsibility of the president. Governing the country
is a responsibility of all political actors, including civil society, and it is
a prerequisite for Mexico’s viability.
It is therefore not only important, but urgent, that the
political parties speak out and commit to concrete action that improves Mexican
governance and strengthens its institutions. The constant pounding by the
candidates, first of all on social networks and transcending conventional
media, is a phenomenon that does nothing but contribute to polarization, fostering
resentment that six years ago caused so much damage, nothing but negative
consequences were left. The eavesdropping on private telephone conversations
and their exposure through unscrupulous means have short-term electoral
purposes, but the long-term effects are horrendous, transforming predominantly
criminal behavior into the common denominator of the campaign. A lack of
respect for election results, unfavorable to the interests of everyone involved,
is a threat that has already begun to appear, as some candidates talk about manipulation
of the polls and proceedings that have been flawed from the beginning.
The electoral practices developed by virtually all the parties
do nothing but show a worrying short-termism, since they undermine the nation’s
governance and the democratic process, sparking a lack of confidence in the
long-term project of building the nation. That is to say nothing of the threat
organized crime poses to an election that cannot afford additional elements of
strain. The immense power to corrupt and the impudent use of violence by cartels
who don’t hesitate to act to protect their interests is an external element
that must also be taken into account and confronted by all political actors, who
should inform the public about the specific actions that need to be taken to
prevent the physical and economic intrusion of those who seek only the erosion
of Mexico’s institutions.
Right now, the name of the game is governance for the good
of Mexico and the region as a whole. That must be Calderón’s
strategy, and the cornerstone of his speech to his peers at the summit with
Harper and Obama. This must also be the priority of the presidential candidates
and the whole of civil society, which is in the midst of an electoral process
that will culminate in less than three months. We cannot afford to fall victim to easy temptation, seeking short-term victory at all costs, without
understanding that in doing so we jeopardize the viability of a nation that
once again will be sacrificed, along with its development and consolidation of its
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