By RICARDO CASTILLO
At this stage in time, Mexico is facing two key issues in its inseparable relation with the United States.
The first issue is the ratification of the second version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while the second has to do with the Nov. 4 murder of a Mormon binational family along the border between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua.
In this latter case, the United States is pushing Mexico to accept the existence of narcoterrorism, while Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard explained on Monday, Nov. 25, why Mexico will not accept to use that term in its diplomatic dialogue with Washington.
Let’s take the issues one at a time:
Washington pussyfooting on USMCA
Mexico on Monday, Nov. 25, demanded that the U.S. House of Representatives to bring the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to a ratification vote in the U.S. Congress.
Time has scurried away and Congress has let it pass until this week of Thanksgiving, when it now seems that it would be impossible to set up a voting day at the House of Representatives.
SRE Undersecretary for North America Jesús Seade reported during a presentation at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) daily press conference at the National Palace that the nation has complied with all its commitments related to USMCA and said it is time for its ratification. As the other partner in the North American trio of nations, Canada is also waiting for the U.S. pussyfooting to stop.
“We feel the moment has come for us, for Mexico, to transmit ways to show (the United States) that this deal is a very good one. And as the Secretary Ebrard has Sao, Mexico has done everything on its side to comply,” Seade said.
“We have participated on an equal basis with the United States and Canada in a very constructive way in elaborating an excellent treaty. Let’s turn the page and move foreword toward ratification.”
Ebrard added: “What we can say up to today is that all the commitments Mexico made (were) considered feasible, reasonable and coincident with sovereign decisions in Mexico. All commitments, up to now, have been complied with. Hence, from now on, it is a political decision by the House of Representatives to ratify this juridical instrument. Mexico has complied!”
Ebrard also said that all the concerns expressed by the US congressmen have been addressed, including the applications of funds to establish a labor reform, which has already been passed by the Mexican Congress.
By the same token, he said, the approved 2020 Expenditures Budget complies with U.S. demands to guarantee compliance by Mexico in the newly acquired commitments.
Regarding many suggestions made regarding the USMCA, “none of them has been delivered in writing nor haVe they been formally discussed by U.S. legislators,” Ebrard said.
Ebrard also read a letter sent by AMLO to Democratic majority leader Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 8 requesting her “collaboration” in sending the USMCA to the House floor because Canada and Mexico have complied with all requirements.
“What we also ask in the most respectful manner is not to mix electoral politics, the differences existing among parties in the United States, with such an important matter for the cooperation and development of Canada, the United States and Mexico, and not to delay treaty approval anymore,” the letter stated.
Representative Pelosi met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday, Nov. 21, but did not reach an agreement, “although some advances were made,” according to negotiator Richard Neal.
But even if they had, the bill has to be written first before it goes on the floor for discussion and a possible vote.
In short, elections and the impeachment process may Very well come and go before the USMCA gets any U.S. congressional attention and that’s highly unlikely to happen this year.
In an unrelated issue, a rift has broken out between the AMLO administration and the LeBaron family, which owns a large piece of land along the Chihuahua and Sonora near the U.S. border on Nov. 4.
LeBaron family members -– all of them dual U.S. and Mexican citizens — have called upon the U.S. government to define drug running organizations operating along region to be as “narcoterrorists.”
The U.S. government published the request and considers it viable after the massacre of six children and three women, all related to the Mormon LeBaron family.
Also, during the Monday press conference, Ebrard, a career diplomat, asked for definition of the term and expressed Mexico’s future refusal to accept it because, in the United States, it means a totally different thing.
“You don’t need to classify a specific group as terrorist to act against it,” Ebrard said. “There are cases galore, such as the ongoing extraditions, that show it would not be necessary. Besides, is an inconvenient term.”
He went on to say: “The narcoterrorism issue has a juridical implication. We consider that all homicidal acts that affect society are very grave. But narcoterrorism has an international juridical impact because there is a U.S. law that makes it possible, when a person or group is declared as a terrorist entity, to invoke a disposition to act in a direct manner. Mexico would never allow that.”
Plus, Ebrard said, this is not the path the United States wants to take in the LeBaron massacre, where there are already FBI agents involved in the investigation.
Also in respect to the LeBaron case, AMLO invited Adrian and Julian LeBaron, among others, to meet with him on Dec. 2, when he will share confidential information with them regarding the group that gunned down their relatives.
However, on Monday in a radio interview, Adrian LeBaron said he will first participate in an anti-violence protest on Dec. 1, the same day on which AMLO plans to celebrate his first year in office with a popular gathering at the Zocalo.
“We want to march on Dec. 1 here in Mexico City,” LeBaron said. “My people are coming with me and I want to raise a banner so that all of the people witness our pain. I want Mexico to see my pain and I am coming to recruit pceople to share that pain with me.”
The LeBaron Dec. 1 demonstration presents a problem. It is being organized by poet Javier Sicilia – who had a son murdered by an organized gang in Cuernavaca – but who over the past few months has been rifting with AMLO.
Will Adrian LeBaron be received on Dec. 2?
Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting.