Editorial reaction to Obama visit

Mexican editorial reaction to the Obama visit to Mexico, and the interacction between the two presidents, was overwhelmingly positive on the symbolism of the meeting, if somewhat skeptical on the substance.  A sampling:

Jorge Fernández Menéndez: “The Mexico-U.S. relationship has suffered so many vicissitudes, especially in the last eight years, that yesterday’s visit was perceived, beyond the formal agreements, as a breath of fresh air. … We insist on one point: form is foundation, as don Jesús Reyes Heroles used to say, and the importance of yesterday’s visit is the manner in which President Obama approached his meeting with Felipe Calderón and the reciprocity of the latter with his guest.” (Excelsior 4/17)


Leo Zuckermann “The visit of Barack Obama to México was noteworthy for the positive signal, the good speech, and one preoccupying difference. … The sole fact that the President of the United States decided to come to Mexico as his first destination in Latin America is a good message. It denotes that he will give priority to the bilateral relationship with his southern neighbor. … [Second] it was possible that Obama would eclipse President Calderón, that the Mexican would seem diminished in the presence of the charismatic U.S. leader. As a result, it was important that the welcome message of Calderón be careful with every phrase. We have to recognize that it came off very well. But in the press conference, I noted a subtle difference [between the two men] that could become preoccupying. … Obama talked of the importance of international trade in the current economic crisis. He said it was not the time to take protectionist positions. However, he also affirmed that the labor and environmental clauses [of the North American Free Trade Agreement] should be revised to make them compatible with today’s challenges. It was then Calderón who subtly expressed the view that, however important the labor and environmental issues were, now was not the time to start negotiations that could put at risk the achievements that the parties to NAFTA have achieved.” (Excelsior 4/17)


Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez: “To fascinate is to enchant. The man who visited us is an enchanter. …. Political will in Mexico has been discredited as impotent, as a sterile expression of impractical caprice. Barack Obama has restored the space for political will as the spark for effective action, if it is approached with intelligence and prudence. …. The enchanter appears, however, to be trapped by his own dexterity. He enjoys giving good speeches, he knows what to say to each person, he seeks applause – and he receives it. The courage to take on an open and risky battle is still to be demonstrated. The wooing of everyone cannot go one indefinitely. If with his combinatory art, he wants to add efficacy to the spell, he will have to choose his battles and win them. He came to Mexico to say to the people that he wanted to listen.  He did not commit to anything, and even so the entire country was left enchanted by him.” (Reforma 4/20)


Templo Mayor: “For all the efforts made by the governments of Felipe Calderón and Barack Obama to “de-narcotize” the bilateral agenda during the visit of the U.S. leader to Mexico, they didn’t achieve their goal. The stubborn reality was that practically all the themes touched on yesterday had to do with organized crime and its negative effects on both sides of the border. During the joint press conference, even though they tried to speak about migration, the economy and free trade, they always wound up returning to violence, insecurity, and the constant defiance of the narcos as recurrent themes.” (Reforma 4/17)

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