Category Archives: US-Mex relations

U.S. arrest of state attorney general will further damage PRI’s electoral chances

The arrest yesterday of Édgar Veytia, the attorney general of the state of Nayarit, by U.S. agents will cause major political damage to the PRI, both in the state and nationally.  Veytia was arrested on a previously-sealed indictment on federal charges of trafficking heroin, meth, cocaine, and marijuana.  The U.S. is also seeking to seize at least US$250 million in assets.

Nayarit is holding gubernatorial elections in June.  The long-dominant PRI is facing a strong challenge from a PAN-PRD coalition. Veytia’s long ties to the outgoing governor, Roberto Sandoval, will hurt the PRI’s chances both there and elsewhere. (Reportedly, the federal National Security Council never required Veytia to submit to the vetting procedures required by law of all senior security officials.)  The arrest and indictment appear to have been complete surprises to the Mexican government.

VeytiaVeytia is alleged to be a leader of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), which has taken over control of trafficking in Nayarit, best known for the resort of Nuevo Vallarta,  from the Pacific Cartel.  A dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, Veytia flew every two weeks to visit his wife and family in San Diego.  Sandoval nominated Veytia to become attorney general of Nayarit in 2012, and it was at that time (according to the U.S. indictment) that the large-scale trafficking began.  As attorney general, Veytia commanded the state police and controlled actions of the local police.  He has been the target of allegations of ties to trafficking over the years, as well as extortion rackets that have forced the sale of prime tourism properties.

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Two attorney generals meet

Cervantes - SessionsRaul Cervantes and Jeff Sessions, the Mexican and U.S. attorneys general, held their first meeting today in Washington.

Now, all the senior cabinet officials on both sides of the bilateral relationship, with the exception of Robert Lighthizer, who has not yet been confirmed as USTR, have met for initial working meetings.

Issues discussed included bilateral cooperation on extradition, technical assistance,  human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and all forms of illicit cross-border activity.  “Both officials reiterated their commitment to cooperate on the interchange of information in order to identify and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, as well as to combat the illegal traffic in drugs and weapons,” according to the PGR’s press release.

Whether by coincidence or not, the meeting coincided with the announcement of the recovery by the PGR and Federal Police of Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey, acting on information provided by the FBI and Houston police.  The jersey (and other stolen football memorabilia) were reportedly recovered on March 12 in a house in Atizapán, Mexico State and have already been returned to the U.S.  Reporting in Excelsior and NYT.

 

AMLO’s NYC tour derailed by protesters

While AMLO has been using his visits to Mexican communities in the U.S. to portray a statesman-like image, he was effectively derailed by protesters in Queens, New York on Monday. Supporters and family members of the 43 students killed in Iguala in 2014 interrupted a town-hall type meeting, accusing AMLO (correctly) of close ties with the then mayor of Iguala and then governor of Guerrero at the time.  (Both politicians were members of the PRD, and were politically backed by AMLO and his supporters.)   In the face of the disruption, AMLO cancelled the rest of the Queens event; much of the rest of his agenda in NYC and Washington was hit by winter storm “Stella.”  The images of the protesters shutting AMLO down is about the only impact his visit had in Mexico.

 

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Videgaray meets with Kushner and Cohn at White House

One day after discussing again with the Mexican Senate parameters for negotiations with the U.S., Foreign Minister Videgaray made a previously unannounced trip to Washington, where he met with presidential assistants Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn.  At a press conference at the Mexican embassy afterwards, Videgaray reiterated his optimistic timetable for trade talks with the U.S.:

“I want to be precise.  Based on conversations today at the White House … both countries will be able to formally start a dialogue on trade issues at the end of June or, perhaps, at the beginning of July.”

This is a far more aggressive timetable than Wilbur Ross had suggested one day earlier, and would require the U.S. administration to send to Congress the required 90-day notice under the TPA no later than the beginning of April.

China wins if NAFTA dies

Writing in Americas Quarterly, Shannon O’Neil of the Council of Foreign Relations has come up with the punchiest statement on the costs of ditching NAFTA: “China wins if NAFTA dies.”

The often cited statistic that 40 cents of every Mexican export dollar north is created by U.S. workers is real, as thousands of companies have invested tens of billions in both nations, creating North American supply chains to make cars, computers, TVs, planes, washing machines, MRIs, defibrillators, and a whole host of other products. And even as some jobs in America’s rust belt have disappeared, many others have stayed or been created precisely because of these investments to the south. By spanning the border, factories make products they can sell globally – increasing the overall economic pie then shared between companies and workers in both countries.

As the United States pushes forward with its renegotiation, it shouldn’t lose the larger guiding philosophy behind NAFTA, namely the recognition that a stable and prosperous North America helps all three nations.

Wilbur Ross throws wrench into timing of NAFTA talks

In his first commentary since being confirmed as Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross said on Bloomberg TV that formal negotiations with Mexico on NAFTA would not start until “the latter part of this year” and could be expected to take “substantially longer than a year.” Both Videgaray and Guajardo have been pushing for talks to begin in June and to be completed before the end of 2017.

Videgaray outlines Mexico’s negotiating posture with U.S.

Foreign Minister Videgaray testimony in the Senate 2/28 included several red lines and must-haves.

U.S. immigration law and enforcement

  • A strictly U.S. domestic issue, and Mexico will not get involved in an internal U.S. debate, BUT:
  • Mexico will not accept any non-Mexican deportees.
  • Mexico will protect the human rights of Mexicans in the U.S., and pursue any violations in international forums
  • There needs to be continued cooperation and coordination on border security matters; threats and insults need to cease
  • No militarization of the border
  • Mexicans leaving the U.S. (both voluntarily and involuntarily) must keep their rights to Social Security earned
  • U.S. and Mexico need to cooperate on Central America

NAFTA

We will not negotiate the Free Trade Agreement from the defendant’s dock.  Any negotiation between the parties must start from the premise that this has been an agreement that has generated important benefits for all three parties.

  • Mexico will undertake the trade negotiations, “without pause, but without haste”
  • No tariffs or quotas.
  • Negotiation should include mechanisms to support rising wages for Mexican workers, so the “production model” isn’t based on cheap labor.

The Wall

  • Construction of the wall is a hostile act, and Mexico will not collaborate in any way; but it is a sovereign matter for the U.S.
  • Mexico will pursue any violation of international law in international forums.

U.S. Tax regime

  • Mexico must be prepared to change its own tax regime if changes to US tax law affect Mexican interests or the economic competitiveness.

Drug trafficking / cartels

  • U.S. must assume its responsibility to reduce demand, and stop the flow of guns and money.

Remittances

  • No measures that restrict the flow of remittances or increase their cost.