A High Level Consultative Group meeting on the Mérida Initiative will bring U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Mexico this week. The Mexican delegation will be headed by Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and include Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont, and Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galván, among others. This is the first such meeting since Dec. 2008. Separately, it was announced that President Calderón will make a state visit to Washington, D.C. on May 19-20. (State 3/17, SRE 3/17)
The Latin America head of states “Unity Summit” starts today in Cancún, with President Calderón as host. The group is expected to announce the decision to go forward with a new regional organization that would include all Latin American and Caribbean countries, but exclude the U.S. and Canada. According to Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Castellanos, “The idea to have a forum—for the region and from the region—came from a proposal of President Calderón. We sincerely believe that it will assist in promoting greater integration. … From outside, it will strengthen the voice of the subcontinent.” The scope and legal framework for the new organization will not be decided until June 2011.
The government is also taking advantage of the presence of President Lula to announce the start the negotiations of a Mexico-Brazil free trade agreement. Economy Secretary Gerardo Ruíz will be in charge of the Mexican negotiating team. (SRE 2/20, Universal 2/21)
President Felipe Calderón and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa announced that the government had rejected the request to repatriate Florence Cassez, a French citizen, to France to serve her sentence under the terms of the Strasbourg Convention. When Nicolas Sarkozy visited Mexico in March, the ‘Affaire Cassez’ was one of the French president’s principal agenda items. She was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping, membership in a criminal gang, and possession of forbidden weapons. She was sentenced to 96 years in prison, which was later reduced to 60 years. Calderón said “it was not acceptable to Mexico” that she could be released or have her sentence reduced if she returned to France. “The federal government is committed to seeing that the victims of kidnapping and their families will get justice,” he said. (Universal 6/22, Excelsior 6/22)
Margarita Zavala, the wife of President Calderón, and family members welcomed with great fanfare the 74 Mexican tourists returning on a special AeroMexico flight from China. The Boeing 777 left Mexico Monday and made stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Canton, and Hong Kong to rescue the Mexicans who had been held in a quarantine decreed by the Chinese government on April 30th. According to El Universal:
At a press conference, five of the Mexicans told of their experiences and most agreed [in their descriptions of] the extreme measures enacted by Chinese authorities, for the mere fact of being Mexican. [Returnee] Mirna Berlanga said they were the object of discrimination and maltreatement, humiliations, even though they showed no symptoms of the illness. They were held in rooms in poor conditions.
The Foreign Ministry has protested the treatment of Mexicans by Chinese authorities. However, as the Templo Mayor column noted:
The traditional prudence of Chancellor Patricia Espinosa is causing annoyance in Los Pinos. It’s known that inside the President’s team there is disagreement with her, since they think she lacked firmness in her posture towards governments that are discriminating against Mexicans, as in the case of China.
(also: Reforma 5/6)