Clinton in the Mexican Papers

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with leaders in Mexico City today and tomorrow, here are some snippets of press coverage of her arrival, taken from the top three Mexican newspapers (all translated from Spanish except for Salazar's quote):

Headline, Reforma: "Hillary Arrives and Lands a Blow against Drug Trafficking"

Ana Maria Salazar, blogger for El Universal: "All of this is happening in light of some worrisome polls. A recent Gallup poll tells us that Americans' positive opinion of Mexico has fallen from 74% in 2006 to 51% in 2009, a 23% drop. At this point, Egypt and China are more popular than Mexico, just to put this visit in context."

Jorge Fernandez Menendez, columnist for Excelsior, on Clinton's arrival and the recently announced plan to beef up the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's operations along the border:

...a fundamental component: it will seek -- at least this is what Napolitano said in her presentation -- to close off the flow of arms and money from the United States to Mexico, and, in addition, to be attentive to the flow of drugs and violence from here toward the other side of the border.

I don't think that the increase in the number of American military or National Guard forces (or of any other security agency) will alone achieve any important success in this enterprise. But if the increase happens along with intelligence work and real exchange of information, it can advance a lot. It stands out, in accordance with the announced plan, that there must be a great emphasis on the interchange of information and intelligence between the armies of each country, because this subject has always found resistance from both sides of the border. One should also note the large presence of agents and units of the DEA, above all because on many occasions the DEA hasn't succeeded in maintaining a common strategy with its counterparts in Mexico.

In reality, what we have is what had been requested time and again, a scheme of cooperation and bilateral coresponsibility that allow us to attack the drug trafficking phenomenon in particular and organized crime in general in a much more complete form. No country by itself can defeat or control organized crime in all its globalized aspects. But nor can Mexico and the United States -- two countries where the ties between criminal groups on both sides of the border are close, and where the groups can operate with great comfort through the enormous daily transit of all types -- defeat it alone.

Susana Chacon, director of research and development, ITESM, Santa Fe Campus, in an El Universal op-ed:

We find ourselves before the first visit to Mexico by the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  Much has been said, respectively, but little has been proposed of substance.  Close neighbors and distant actors, it would seem that in these last two months many events have caused misperceptions.

After the first encounter between the pres-elect BO and the pres of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, on January 12, today requires an appropriate bilateral agenda. Without a doubt, the visit isn't in keeping with a dynamic strategic U.S. foreign policy.  During the last weeks, many critics have had to turn their glance toward Mexico: violence levels, arms trafficking, drug trafficking.

Clinton's visit is framed in an environment of criticism of our country on the part of U.S. strategic sectors.  But what's fundamental is still far from those critics: it's a moment to built a specific bilateral agenda.  The relationship is steady, and the traditional themes stay on track independently of the individual actors.  But moments of redefinition present themselves, and we should make the most of them. This is one such moment, and a very important one.