A Discussion With Governor Fidel Herrera Beltrán
Governor Fidel Herrera emphasized the benefits of enhanced cooperation between Mexico and the United States. Security cooperation between the two countries is necessary to shut the door on north-south arms trafficking and to keep terrorists out of the United States, while economic cooperation is necessary to lift both countries out of the current recession. Building barriers at the border is not a viable solution, he said. "We should be strategic partners and not distant neighbors," Herrera said.
Mexico faces simultaneous security and economic crises, Herrera said. These crises have been aggravated by the current economic recession, which has led to a drop-off in remittances from U.S.-based immigrants, job losses, and slowed output. Meanwhile, violent crime has increased throughout Mexico. The governor of one of Mexico's most populous states remarked on high levels of internal migration in Mexico, noting that 300,000 Veracruz natives make the northern border and manufacturing city of Ciudad Juárez their home.
Herrera said Veracruz was better prepared to weather the economic recession than other Mexican states. He said that the state has solid public finances and has used municipal bond financing to fund infrastructure projects (water systems, sanitation). He added that Veracruz, home to major oil resources and a major hydroelectric producer, has untapped potential in the area of renewable energy generation.
PRI Economic and Fiscal Stances
Mexican Foreign Policy and Image Abroad
Mexico remains an important voice in international affairs, but it needs to "get back to basics," Herrera said, indicating the need for a more publicly robust foreign policy. It is not a good sign, he indicated, that while Brazil is opening embassies, Mexico is considering closing some of its own. Mexico appears to be lagging behind Brazil on the world stage, he said.
NAFTA and Veracruz
Herrera lamented that Mexico's U.S. sugar export quota is unable to accommodate a larger share of the country's sugar surplus – a consequence of so-called "side" agreements to the NAFTA text. Limitations on Mexico's ability to freely export sugar to the U.S. market has prevented his state, a large sugarcane grower, from better perceiving the benefits of the trade agreement, he said.
By Robert Donnelly