After his press conference with Mexican president Jorge Peña Nieto yesterday, I thought President Obama had blown his trip to Mexico. The coverage we watched on CNN was horrible: Gloria Borges whose name to me has an unpleasant onomatopoaeic sound to it and Wolf Blitzer blathered over everything Peña Nieto said. One would have thought that there would have been a simultaneous translation of the Mexican president's comments instead. When it was Obama's turn, the first question was of all things about Syria, and then when he finally got to Mexico, the President wandered around in a thicket of cliches which seemed to show he didn't even know he was in Mexico. Of course he dwelled on themes of security first, whereas Peña Nieto did so last. And his suit was too small. Borges and Blitzer should have blathered over what Obama said.
Today, the president seemed to redeem himself somewhat with a speech at the magnificent National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City. At times, the Mexican audience, made up of oustanding students, government officials and academics and analysts including Denise Dresser and Jorge Castañeda and Arlos Heredia, even reacted with enthusiasm at times. He talked of "better bilateral collaboration" (and here you have to forgive me because I'm translating from Spanish back to English. We got the speech on CNN en español. It was not available on CNN in the US) and stressed themes of joint partership, trying hard to move from traditional US arrogance. He said he had come to Mexico because "[t]his is the time to put aside old ways of thinking, to recognize new realities, including the impressive progress of Mexico today." He acknowledged that the US shared responsibility for the problems with crime, incuding for the arms traffic and drug use.
He talked of the undeniable need to combat climate change with the use of clean energies and emphasized Mexico´s leaderhip in this area and the aid it has given other countries for establishing greener economies.
He also said he would see an exchange of 100000 students from Latin America and Mexico with US students.
He talked of the fact that he would not be president without the support of Hispanic immigrants and went on to describe the enrichment of the US by Mexican immigrants, which he had experienced in his home town of Chicago.
It's all very tricky, this. There is a fine line between Mexico (and the US for that matter) being able to move ahead in a way that truly enhances Mexican (and US) lives and that veers from enviromental destruction and finding itself drawn further into the dark morass of globalization. Thereare also continuing and profound problems of massive un- and underemployment and great poverty and hunger and ill-health and community crumbling and whether these issues will end up undermining everything.
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