Kate Davidson, Graduate
School of Journalism
|Ambassador Rozental offers insight about the relationship between the U.S.
On November 27, the Center
for Latin American Studies concluded it's fall semester U.S.-Mexico
series with a talk by Ambassador Andrés Rozental. Rozental
is Ambassador at Large and Special Presidential Envoy to
Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox. His talk was entitled, "U.S.-Mexico
Relations: A Post September 11 Scenario."
"There is no less
of an intensity in the [U.S.-Mexico] relationship than before
September 11," Rozental said.
But, he indicated, this
intensity was made possible by the bilateral talks immediately
preceding September 11. These talks, he said, recast the
relationship between the two countries. In doing so, they
set the stage for Mexico's internal debate and external response
to the attacks and their aftermath.
On September 7, Vicente
Fox returned to Mexico from the United States after a highly
successful state visit. He returned, Rozental said, with
major accomplishments in hand.
Not least among them
was the fact that President Bush had bestowed on Fox the
honor of the administration's first state visit. Every activity
broke precedence, Rozental said, indicating that the United
States and Mexico were "at last true partners and neighbors." He
commented that this was the "tone under which the entire
state visit took place."
Rozental said a language
of cooperation prevailed for the first time in discussions
of the "thorny" issues of migration, drug trafficking,
and border security.
"Both Mexico City
and Washington delighted in portraying the visit as a resounding
success and a harbinger of a true partnership for prosperity," he
"Then came September
11 and the attacks on New York and Washington," he continued. "The
collapse of the twin towers brought an apparent collapse
of this budding new relationship between the two neighbors-which
only four days before had led George Bush to proclaim Mexico
the most important country for the United States."
Washington's focus necessarily
shifted from its southern neighbor. However, Rozental asserted,
while September 11 dampened the urgency of Fox's suggestion
that the Bush administration address Mexican migration and
regularization, the issues themselves were not swept away.
In fact, Rozental relayed,
Representative Richard Gephardt and Senator Tom Daschle recently
traveled to Mexico with the message that "the relationship
is exactly in the state it was before September 11." The
House and Senate Democratic leaders said that the crucial
issues challenging the partnership were still on the agenda,
and would be given the same emphasis by the United States.
Rozental indicated that
this would likely happen on a different timetable. It is
now clear, he said, that agreement on an overall regularization
plan for Mexicans already in the United States could not
be fulfilled by the end of the year. Instead, he expects
talks to resume in January.
Rozental structured his
assessment of the post September 11 relationship between
Mexico and the U.S. as a narrative stemming from the gains
of the state visit. Several themes emerged from his remarks
to show why he believed that the primacy of the U.S.-Mexico
relationship would survive this tumultuous period.
Among them was the complex
economic and social importance of Mexico to the United States.
The sympathies of the former Texas governor, the importance
of the Hispanic vote, and Mexican workers' financial contributions
make Mexico too crucial an ally to ignore, he asserted. Rozental
also said that Mexico's democratic reaffirmation gives it
a greater legitimacy vis a vis the U.S. and the international
Mexico has exercised
this legitimacy in its effort to support the United States
through the structure of the OAS, Rozental continued. Likewise,
Mexico has issued statements of support for U.S. retaliatory
action conducted in collaboration with the United Nations.
And, ironically, some
of the issues that Mexico has long pressed the U.S. to resolve
have gained greater urgency since the September 11 attacks.
It is indispensable,
Rozental said, to address the issue of undocumented people
already in the United States. "It is now in the interest
of U.S. national security to know who is here and to regularize
them," he said.
Border security has also
taken on an added importance. Mexico has worked to normalize
its northern border and to strengthen its southern border.
As with many of Rozental's
reflections, concrete achievement was matched with hope for
greater safety and freedom of movement for Mexicans. Rozental
said that eventually he would like to see the establishment
of a North American security perimeter-a strong external
border for the facilitation of movement between Canada, the
U.S., and Mexico.