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MEXICO: The Fox-Bush Meeting--A Marshall Plan for Mexico

The issue of Mexican migration to the United States is usually viewed in terms of self-interest. Fox wants an open border so as to solve Mexico's problems. US political parties, employers and unions blow hot an cold according to their calculations as to the political and economic gains it would bring. For a scholarly study of the issue we must go to the Center for Immigration Studiues in Washinbgton, DC. Its Executive Director, Mark Krikorian, has just issued "The Year in Immigration" as a cover letter to a Backgrounder (January 01) by Steven A Camarota entitled "Immigrants in the United States--2000. A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population". It is based on the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the Census Bureau, considered the best source of information about "foreign.born". The March 2000 CPS also includes a detailed detailed study of "Hispanics", which served as a basis for this Backgrounder, which is must reading for anyone seriously interested in the problem.

A WAISer who knows Mexico very well and feels a great affection for it, writes: "Response to a Marshall Plan for Mexico". "I don't believe that we should 'help' Mexico. I have come to the sad conclusion that most, if not all, of such help would go directly into the pockets of the privileged minority who rule the country, as has all such help in the past. The international aid directed toward the victims of the 1985 earthquake was a perfect example of this. Furthermore, the Mexican elite has had ample opportunity to 'rebuild' Mexico themselves, and I cannot see that they have lifted a collective finger to alleviate the grinding poverty from which the country suffers. Graft and corruption are at epidemic levels, and I would be extremely surprised if Fox could/would be able to change this during his sexenio. "The Waiser goes on to describe such abuses observed directly.

Douglas Wolfe says ironically: "In some cultures, when one receives a pair of shoes or boots as a gift, the receipient of the shoes would typical give a token (usually a coin, penny or a quarter) to break the possible bad omen of a strained relation in the near future. Shoes are made for stepping. There just might be a stampede from the South." Indeed, does a gift of boots have a symbolic meaning in Mexico? Fox wanted much more than a quarter, and the boots could symbolize Mexican migrants. Or it may have symbolized simply "the cowboy summit".

Despite the obvious good will, differences wwere evident. Usually presidential visits are an occasion for signing treaties, but this was a closed informal meeting in which no agreements were reached. It was really a one-way street. Fox wanted an amnesty for Mexicans illegally in the US, Bush said no. Fox supplemented the idea of a Marshall Plan was with a comparison between the upcoming Americas summit in Quebec and the European Union, in which the rich countries subsidize the poorer ones. Fox interpreted the phrase "helping poorer regions" to mean that the US and Canada would give financial help to Mexico, and he proposed the creation of a bank for that purpose. (The Inter-American Development Bank was not mentioned). Bush was sceptical. Fox promoted the Mexican idea of working with Cuba rather than boycotting it. Bush said no.

The bombing of Iraq authorized by Bush personally coincided with his Mexican visit and took some of the luster off it. The many newsmen from many countries wanted his to comment on it. He said that Hussein must agree not to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, leaving the newsmen and people around the globe wondering why Israel is not held to the same obligation. Was the coincidence an accident or was it calculated?

Ronald Hilton - 2/17/01