NICA on Fox/ Bush Feb 16 Junta

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Fri Feb 23 13:44:41 MST 2001

In his first official foreign visit, U.S. President George W. Bush held
a seven-hour meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada on
February 16 at the Fox family's ranch in San Cristóbal in the central
state of Guanajuato. The meeting seemed to be largely geared to photo
opportunities and human-interest stories about what the media called the
"cowboy summit" between two presidents who own ranches and wear cowboy
boots. Despite the media buildup, the U.S. chose the same day to
escalate its bombing of Iraq, and as the left-leaning Mexican daily La
Jornada remarked, Iraq "eclipsed" the summit.

The substantive issues of the meeting were the promotion of the planned
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the subject of a hemispheric
summit in Quebec City in April; Fox's push to have the U.S. ease its
harsh policies towards Mexican immigrants by granting an amnesty for
undocumented workers and creating a "guest worker" program; and Bush's
efforts to have Mexico open up its oil and electricity industries by
allowing U.S. investment and increasing the sale of electricity to
California. Bush insisted that the U.S. would not accept an amnesty, and
told U.S. television that "I'm not here to trade oil for immigrants,"
but he agreed to establish an immigration working group headed by
Mexican foreign relations secretary Jorge G. Castañeda and governance
secretary Santiago Creel Miranda, and by U.S. secretary of state Colin
Powell and attorney general John Ashcroft.

 (LJ 2/17/01, quote retranslated from Spanish; New York Times 2/17/01)
A consensus seems to be developing around the issues among politicians
and think tanks in both countries. Although the Mexican constitution
forbids the privatization of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the
state-owned oil monopoly, on February 14 Fox announced a new slate of
directors for the PEMEX board that includes three of the 10 richest
people in Mexico: Teléfonos de México (TELMEX) chair Carlos Slim
Helú; Lorenzo Zambrano, president of the CEMEX cement company; and
Grupo Púlsar chair Alfonso Roma Garza. The New York Times writes that
the changes show a determination to move the "bloated and antiquated
monopoly into something more like an efficient multinational
corporation." (NYT 2/15/01)

On February 14, two days before the summit, Fox and Bush received
recommendations from the United States–Mexico Migration Panel—which
the New York Times describes as "a panel of immigration
experts"—calling for a "grand migration bargain" and a comprehensive
plan to "modernize the energy industry in Mexico and respond to the US's
energy needs." The panel is headed by former Mexican deputy foreign
relations secretary Andrés Rozental and by Thomas ("Mack") McLarty,
former U.S. President Bill Clinton's special envoy to Latin America.

(NYT 2/16/01; Financial Times (London) 2/15/01; McLarty op-ed in LJ
2/16/01) McLarty is well connected with both Democrats and Republicans.
He is a personal friend of Clinton, a Democrat, and he heads the
Kissinger McLarty Associates consulting firm, the Washington affiliate
of Kissinger Associates, which is headed by Henry Kissinger, secretary
of state under Republican former President Richard Nixon (1969–1974).
(Washington Post 12/14/01)

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