Much has already been published about Obama’s first “official” meeting with a world leader. Mexican President Felipe Calderon will meet with president-elect Barack Obama this morning at the Mexican Cultural Center in Washington DC. Calderon has an agenda heavy with a number of items that include immigration, security, and trade, yet he will receive very little by way of promise or action.
Mexico’s Proceso news magazine is quick to point out that Calderon supported McCain in the presidential campaign. But Obama will not hold that against him. Nevertheless, it will likely be at the back of both men’s minds, and if Obama wants to, he could use that simple fact to pressure Calderon, if only a little.
What Obama will make clear is that every request Calderon might make will have to go through the US Congress first – immigration reform, NAFTA tweaks, and support for the drug war top that list.
Obama has also played “the wall” cards close to his chest. The construction of the new border fence continues, and during the presidential campaign, neither Obama nor McCain made much of the issue. The truth is there was little daylight between each man’s position – use a wall near the cities and rely on a “virtual fence” in the long stretches between populated areas.
This will not be good enough for Calderon, but he must face the larger picture. Dozens of immigrants may still loiter around the Chevron station off of the 285 loop in Atlanta, looking for work as they do in every major city in the United States, but there are enough Mexican immigrants returning home to capture the national media’s attention. Once again, Congress comes into play, and the new Congress, once seated, will most certainly focus on the economy. The Mexicans, sadly, may have to wait it out through the summer and into the fall before we see any significant movement in Congress, and that’s with or without strong support from the Obama Whitehouse.
Calderon has done well to get his foot in the door first, ahead of a long line of world leaders eager to make a positive first impression on the new US president. To what avail? As optimistic as I’d like to be on this point, I must agree with the Proceso when it points out that little more that rhetoric will come of this meeting.
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