Just How Well Are the US and Mexico Cooperating?
By EARL ANTHONY WAYNE, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico
The United States and Mexico are trying to maneuver through seriously difficult challenges involving migration, public security, border management and trade, while both countries prepare for presidential and congressional elections in 2024.
Several issues are already hot-button topics for Republicans in the United States, with some politicians offering unrealistic and dangerous solutions on drug trafficking and migration.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) fuels concerns with sharp criticisms of U.S. policies and dubious assertions, including that deadly fentanyl is not produced in Mexico, despite much contrary evidence.
Over 70,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses in 2022, and southwest border fentanyl seizures have risen more than 500 percent since fiscal year 2020.
Last week’s High-Level Security Dialogue sought to demonstrate that constructive cooperation is underway to manage the massive flow of migrants again headed northward and to slow trafficking of fentanyl into the United States and illegal arms trafficking into Mexico.
U.S. and Mexican ministers pledged reinforced collaboration, praised ongoing cooperation and tried to solidify understanding for the work ahead.
Anti-crime cooperation has improved since 2021.
Current collaboration on migration is essential.
However, when Mexico’s security secretary denied that fentanyl is produced in Mexico, the statement highlighted that misunderstanding remains.
Much work is still required to solidify the law enforcement, intelligence and justice collaboration needed to take down cross-border criminal networks.
Fentanyl seizures at the border rose more than 80 percent in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2023, while migrant border encounters have increased again.
Both governments need to demonstrate convincing results and skillful management to avoid serious damage to bilateral relations in the year ahead.
EARL ANTHONY WAYNE is a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico and public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and co-chair of its Mexico Institute Advisory Board.