Issue 10, August 2009
|History of US-Mexico Relations|
The histories of the United States and Mexico are intertwined. At issue for centuries, even when they were colonies of Britain and Spain, respectively, was land.
Beyond land, US-Mexico tensions have also been about influence.
The late 20th Century was marked by Mexican economic decline, resulting in debt and currency crises, for which the US provided some relief. The post 1994 US-Mexico era has been marked by issues of trade (NAFTA), migration, security, energy, drugs, and the environment. Relations have been affected by global trends as well, including the post-9/11 war on terror and the rise of China as a common economic threat.
An overriding factor in US-Mexican relations is asymmetry.
In 2009, President Obama embarked on what has been framed as a new era in US-Mexican relations. Well-publicized issues surrounding drug violence and immigration have elevated Mexican policy in the new President’s priorities. On his highly scripted visit to Mexico City in April, he announced that he was there “to launch a new era of partnership… built on an even firmer foundation of mutual responsibility, mutual respect, and mutual interest.”
This has been accompanied by a billion dollar (mostly military) initiative to help Mexico deal with increasing drug violence, known as the Merida Initiative. Critics of this initiative believe the solutions to mounting border crises lie not in more sophisticated weaponry for Mexican drug officials or in more immigration controls, but in reducing the glaring inequality between the two countries that lies at the root of many of these crises.
As globalization has progressed, the US and Mexico (and Canada) have become more interdependent, and it is unlikely that this trend will reverse, despite the global economic recession. But this remains an asymmetrical interdependence, as Mexico is in a more vulnerable position and more easily buffeted by political, economic, and social trends at play inside its larger neighbors.
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