The six-year term of Mexico’s President Vicente Fox reached its halfway point Monday. During his three years in office, Fox has struggled to achieve his most significant goal – improved relations with the United States. Fox appears focused on achieving this at almost any cost.
The Mexican public was outraged in November when Fox foolishly fired Mexico’s representative to the United Nations to more closely align his country with the Bush administration. Fox’s domestic political demise demonstrates that Mexicans will not, and should not, stand for a leader who trades domestic principles for U.S. political approval.
President George W. Bush and Fox held promising meetings in 2001, but after Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. administration quickly trampled burgeoning goodwill with new, more stringent immigration policies. Mexican-U.S. relations became even more strained when Mexican citizens opposed the war in Iraq by as much as 85 percent and Fox rightly stood by his people’s calls for peace. But since that public conflict ended, Fox has reached a new low as he attempts to heal old wounds and pander to U.S. administration interests.
Fox’s approval rates plummeted after he fired the top representative to the United Nations, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser. He was a long-time friend to Fox and a career diplomat who had no idea he would be fired for saying in a speech that for many years the United States has treated Mexico as its “back yard.” After Colin Powell called the comment “outrageous,” Fox gave Zinser the opportunity to recant his statement or leave office.
We think the diplomat’s comments were an understatement and hardly express the United States’ discriminatory immigration, trade and environmental policies toward Mexico. For example, a recent Associated Press investigation found Bush’s more stringent immigration procedures have failed to detain even one suspected terrorist. Researchers found that deaths of immigrants, particularly women and infants, increased as security along the borders was strengthened.
Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive, held the promise of democratization and economic prosperity for Mexico. He clearly believed Bush’s approval was the best way to bring Mexico out of the shadows. Now it seems he will do almost anything for elusive U.S. support – even if it means ignoring the values and interests of his own citizens.