Last week the White House Summit between Canada, Mexico and U.S. or the “Three Amigos” drew little scrutiny from the media. Instead, the Rose Garden coverage centered on President Obama’s remarks cautioning the Supreme Court to forego judicial activism when deciding the fate of Obama care (the decision is expected sometime in June). The weeklong controversy focused on the president’s lack of respect for members of the Supreme Court and sparked outrage from both political parties, forcing Obama’s aides to reinvent the statement.
Meanwhile, America’s northern and southern neighbors quietly suggested the Obama Administration has relegated the once robust partnership into a “frenemies-like” relationship.
While this allegation failed to make headlines in America, Canada and Mexico’s hometown news agencies reported that America’s largest trading partners are suffering through a deteriorating relationship.
Fortunately for Americans, the Canadian and Mexican press told the real story. Canada’s National Post quoted former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the three-nation alliance it has fostered since 1994 have been so neglected they’re “on life support.” Under NAFTA Canada closely aligned itself with America providing a positive trade rapport for both countries.
“NAFTA gave us a serious relationship with Mexico but, as Monday’s summit illustrated, we continue to be a somewhat reluctant partner,” Robertson said. “Taking advantage of our shared continent is a good idea, but it requires vision and boldness if we’re to realize the advantage of resources, market and labor.”
Robertson further explains that last week’s summit only highlighted a weakened American partnership. “These meetings are essentially ‘dual bilaterals’ between Mexico and the U.S. and then, time permitting, between Canada and the U.S. We have to await the outcome of this year’s elections in Mexico and the U.S. before we can revive the North American idea.”
Canada also had strong words for American officials regarding Mexico’s battle with the powerful drug cartels. “(They) deserve our support in combatting the drug menace… If we can wage war in Afghanistan and Libya, then surely we can lend a helping hand in our neighborhood.”
When it comes to trade and other business interests, Canada points to Mexico’s relaxed regulations as another attractive reason for Ottawa to create or invest in businesses. “We also have increasing commercial interests. The World Bank says Mexico is the easiest place in Latin America to run a business and, by mid-century, Goldman Sachs reckons the country will be the world’s fifth-largest economy, bigger than that of Germany, Russia and Japan,” Robertson concluded.
With the fragile American economy teetering, the Obama Administration must address the nation’s soaring energy costs. Yet, the White House just axed the Keystone XL pipeline that would have created American jobs and provided lower oil prices.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper “warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is (now) preparing to sell its oil to China.”
Under NAFTA, the American consumers enjoy lower oil prices and are risking the favorable trade status with their northern neighbor. During the Canadian Prime Minister’s visit, he warned the Obama Administration that the costs are “about to change.”
Meanwhile, Canadians said they have been waiting patiently for U.S. support to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) composed of free-trade members including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, and Singapore.
However, Canadian diplomats have accused the U.S. of blocking their entry into Trans-Pacific Partnership.
President Obama tacitly conceded Canada’s complaint and told the Rose Garden press pool “every country that is participating is going to have to make some modifications.”
Canada’s dissatisfaction reflected a far different tone. “Our strong sense is that most of the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would like to see Canada join,” Prime Minister Harper said.
The Prime Minister also suggested that it was the “Obama administration alone” that blocked Canada’s entrance into the profitable Trans-Pacific Partnership. Canada made it crystal clear that Obama’s recent rebuke for TPP and the Keystone XL oil pipeline (reports say Canada holds a third of the World’s oil supply with 175 billion barrels according to the CIA Fact book) will result in higher energy prices for American’s already struggling with record-setting fuel prices.
Mexico has also expressed its interest in joining the TPP.
“I’d like to reiterate the interest of my country to join forces as soon as possible to the TPP and its negotiations,” Mexican President Felipe Calderon said at the White House meeting. “We are convinced that the experience and participation of Mexico will enrich this free-trade project of the latest generation that encompasses countries in Asia, Oceania and America.”
However, negotiations remain stalled as Obama launches his bid to retain power, and claims that adding new countries to the negotiation table will only hinder the process.
“Consultations with our Trans-Pacific partners are now under way on how new members can meet the high standards of this trade agreement, which could be a real model for the world,” Obama explained.
“With respect to the TPP, as is true of any process of arriving at a trade agreement, every country that’s participating is going to have to make some modifications,” Obama said. “That’s inherent in the process, because each of our countries have their idiosyncrasies, certain industries that have in the past been protected… certain practices that may be unique to that country but end up creating disadvantages for businesses from other countries. And so it’s a process of everybody making adjustments.”
In the mean time America’s relationship with Mexico continues to deteriorate under the Obama Administration. Topping the list for Mexico’s complaint is “Operation Fast and Furious” (a program that let 2,000 firearms “walk” across the border and into the hands of ruthless drug cartels). The botched Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) program has left hundreds of Mexican citizens, law enforcement agents and government officials dead. President Felipe Calderon told U.S. officials that America’s lack of arrests associated with the failed gunwalking program showed a flagrant disregard for the Mexican people who have been killed with “Fast and Furious” firearms.
The Mexico City newspaper the Excelsior reported that President Calderon “bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious,” a program that Mexico claims is responsible for the loss of thousands of lives.
The lack of clarity from U.S. leaders investigating the Fast and Furious fiasco has not only strained the U.S./Mexico relationship, but insiders say it is shifting America’s strong alliance with Mexico toward “frenemy” status.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak
© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Mexican authorities said they captured the world’s most wanted man, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s, chief security advisor on Christmas.
President Felipe Calderon hasn’t released a statement on the high-profile arrest, but Mexican Army officials said the cartel security point man was apprehended in the Sinaloa city of Cuiliacan, but declined to disclose the cartel henchman’s name.
Mexican officials speculate the high-profile apprehension could lead to the arrest of “El Chapo” and will extensively interrogate the Sinaloa security advisor this week.
The Sinaloa cartel has suffered a string of U.S. drug distribution arrests as U.S. law enforcement officers confiscated drugs, money and weapons.
The Mexican war on drugs continues to accelerate despite hundreds of arrests and murders surging past 40,000 in the five-year fight. U.S. experts point to the lucrative drug business that grosses $25-35 billion every year. Advisors also contend that the U.S. is the largest consumer of illegal drugs and supports the drug trade south of the border.
American drug consumption has attributed to “El Chapo’s” wealth. In fact, Forbes magazine said, “El Chapo” is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. The magazine also designated “El Chapo” as one of the “World’s Most Powerful People.”
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Nearly 30,000 people have been brutally murdered since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels in 2007. This number is greater than the loss of military life in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
So far President Calderon has deployed more than 45,000 troops and 5,000 federal police officers to Mexico’s 18 states where the drug cartels are known to operate. The thrust of the cartel violence often pits low-income peasants against one another in order to give drug lords access to the best smuggling routes into America.
Many leaders in Mexico accuse the U.S. of doing nothing to stop America’s growing drug addiction and experts have pointed to the fact that 80 percent of the world’s drug consumption is inside the land of the free and home of the brave.
Mexican authorities also contend that once the drugs are sold throughout America, the money and weapons flow south -continuing the perpetual cycle of drug cartel violence- leaving a Mexican citizenry to pick up the pieces with little to no end in sight.
As a result of the escalating violence, the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros (a city that borders Brownsville, Texas) issued a warning to U.S. citizens living in Tamaulipas. The warning came after a week of intensified warring between cartels that continues to become more brazen in the metropolitan area along the U.S./Mexico border.
The Consular office told U.S. citizens that there were some changes in personnel security policies issued by the U.S. government in Matamoros and Americans are urged to follow the new state guidelines.
U.S. government officials said that due to the constant violence reported in Matamoros and the consular district, the security office of the Consulate General has restricted personal travel outside of residential areas between midnight and 6:00 am for all U.S. personnel and their families.
In addition to recommending Americans travel only during the day, Consulate officials told Americans to have alternate escape routes planned and that they should be prepared to take evasive action at any time while traveling in Mexico.
“U.S. citizens in the consular district of Matamoros should consider adopting such restrictions by themselves to travel and in any case must remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times,” the Consular said.
Over the weekend another drug cartel kingpin was killed along with 20 others in a gun battle that raged for hours, while the death is a notch in President Calderon’s drug-war belt, it is little comfort to those who reside in Mexico.
It’s been the case in the past few years that once a major cartel leader is killed more violence ensues as rival gangs fight for routes and cartel hierarchy scrambles to gain control of their organization.
Many in Mexico hoped America’s new President, Barrack Obama, would provide change in the way the U.S. dealt with its drug addiction, but unfortunately it’s been business as usual on both sides of the drug-war border.
In an effort to assist Mexico in its immigration and customs law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security graduated the first ICE 10-week training class meant to sharpen Mexican authority’s ability to secure their homeland that has been ravaged by drug cartels.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton joined Mexican Secretary of Finance Ernesto Cordero Arroyo and Tax Administration Service and Customs Director Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz-Mena at the first-ever graduation of Mexican customs officials from an ICE-led federal investigator training course in North Charleston, S.C.
“Our efforts to crack down on criminal organizations and others who threaten the safety of our citizens and our economy require close cooperation between the United States and Mexico,” said Napolitano. “Today’s historic graduation of Mexican customs officials from this U.S.-led investigator training course reflects the unprecedented collaboration between our two nations to better combat transnational crime while facilitating legitimate travel and trade.”
While Napolitano may see this as progress, others say it is a wolf in sheep’s clothes situation and Americans will never learn that giving away the nation’s secrets or train the potential mercenaries usually comes back to haunt America. (The Los Zetas drug cartel strongmen were originally trained by the U.S. military in North Carolina in counter-terrorism techniques for the Mexican military.)
“Are you %^&*$#* kidding me?” Let’s train Mexican immigration officers on our laws and procedures and how to enforce immigration laws, thereby giving them valuable information on how to defeat what little protections we have left in place? And how many of these agents are in the employ of the Cartels? If not now, how soon after they get back home with a newly marketable skill will they approach the cartels and offer their services, for a price? That’s tantamount to putting the fox in the henhouse,” says a veteran ICE agent John Sakelarides.
Working in coordination with Mexico, DHS continues with its quest to increase trans-border trade while trying to thwart border violence that undermines Mexico’s ability to speed up trade between the two countries.
“A well-functioning border is an opportunity for growth—it opens doors to commercial exchange, peace, progress and human development,” said Mexican Secretary Cordero.
There were 24 men and women from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service and Customs who participated in the inaugural law enforcement customs investigator training course conducted by ICE agents.
The federal course included rules in both Mexican and U.S. customs law, as well as training in numerous investigative techniques like, officer safety tactics and ethics to assist graduates to provide the agents with the tools and knowledge necessary to combat cross-border crime. Primary topics included money laundering, customs offenses and weapons and drug trafficking, the Mexican students worked in close coordination with ICE special agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials to master immigration law.
DHS reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to sharing border security responsibility with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón and their ability to secure the Southwest border and ensure the security of both nations through programs like the Mérida Initiative which former President George W. Bush sought as the cornerstone for U.S./Mexico security cooperation.
The brand new Mexican customs investigator training course is part of the Department of State-led initiative that is designed to provide assistance to Mexico and Central American countries in the form of building, training and providing equipment to better equip law enforcement agencies to complete their border security missions. The United States has set aside $1.4 billion in aid for Mexico through this initiative.
Secretary Napolitano and her Mexican counterparts have engaged in an unprecedented level of cooperation the past year. Their accomplishments included securing a number of bilateral agreements and declarations to bolster cooperation in the areas of enforcement, information and intelligence sharing, joint operations and trade facilitation along the Southwest border.
Under Napolitano, DHS has doubled the number of law enforcement personnel assigned to their Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST), multi-agency teams that collaborate to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations which pose significant threats to border security and coordinate intelligence sharing on both sides of the border.
As Southwest border violence continues to escalate, American lives are lost, U.S. law enforcement lives are in daily peril and cartels continue to demonstrate their ability to operate freely, DHS is hoping this new partnership with Mexico will alleviate the stranglehold the Mexican Mafia currently operates under in both countries.