As President Barack Obama visits Mexico and Costa Rica this weekend, the administration is emphasizing the themes of sustainable economic growth, development, and the cultural ties that bind millions of people in the region to immigrants in the United States. And while the new administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto appears determined to shift the bilateral conversation away from security issues, this topic will frame the meetings in Costa Rica; there, in addition to a bilateral meeting with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, President Obama will meet will all seven Central American presidents, plus the Dominican Republic.

The United States was slow to realize the ways that Mexico’s crackdown on drug trafficking cartels would impact the Central American isthmus.

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