Research: Publications

Changing Perspectives on U.S.-Mexico Relations

May 1, 2013 | Policy Brief

By Tom Barry

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It’s unfortunate that the two presidents chose to hold their May 2-3 summit in Mexico City. Both nations and Presidents Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto would have been better served by a meeting at the border – where the grim reality of neighborly relations would not be masked by the pomp and circumstance of the grand presidential residence of Los Pinos.

A meeting at the customs building in Ciudad Juárez – the site of the first Mexico-U.S. presidential meeting in 1909 between Porfirio Díaz and William Taft – would have likely resulted in a more memorable and productive summit of the current heads of state, Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama. As it is, this meeting will likely be soon forgotten – lost in protocol, predictable rhetoric about interdependence, and the photogenic smiles of the two presidents.

A century ago the Rio Grande/Río Bravo clearly marked the divide between El Paso and Juárez, the border twins that were jointly known as El Paso del Norte – the pass to the north. Today, however, it’s unlikely that the presidential delegations and the accompanying media would know it passes for a river – really just an alarmingly greenish trickle of pesticides, fertilizer runoff, and human waste.

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