Welcoming a Fox to the barn
Mexican President Vicente Fox will make the final stop of his victory lap through the western United States Thursday in California, hoping to influence support for Senate approval of amnesty for a tenth of Mexico’s citizens now residing north of its frontier.
His tour also attempts to shore up credibility for his embattled National Action Party, which is in a tight race with the leftist Democratic Revolution Party for the July 2nd presidential election, in which Fox cannot run as an incumbent. Migration is the loudest, unspoken issue of the campaign. More than 40,000 Mexicans living in the U.S. are registered to vote in Mexico.
During Fox’s almost six years in office, his government has encouraged millions of its poorest citizens to cross its northern border, by printing handbooks of helpful hints for avoiding “La Migra,” and cooperating military officials to expedite the “coyotes” in transporting their human cargo. The $20-billion a year that that these people send back to Mexico makes immigration the most important segment of the country’s economy.
President Fox says his visit is to encourage investment, and to show his total support for the defense of human rights. Reporters who have tried to question him on this tour are told that there will be no comments, beyond the scripted speeches he will give to very selected audiences in Utah, Washington and California. This policy does not sit well with American journalists.
They want to know why his country is pushing hard for legalizing immigrants here in the U.S., while maintaining one of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world. Don’t ask! Fox has also cancelled previously scheduled meetings with editorial boards.
The last thing that Fox wants to discuss is the failure of his “reform” party to clean up the mess in his own backyard, which is a primary cause of the mass exodus – one of the largest in human history. Corruption is institutionalized in Mexican society, especially at the local level. Public servants are expected to supplement their low wages with whatever “mordida” (the bite) they can extract from the citizens for government services, including health and police protection.
Meanwhile, the taxpayers of California have had to pay out more than $12-billion a year to provide social services, including education, for those who have escaped from Mexico’s dysfunctional system. Fox will address Thursday a joint meeting of the state legislature, where he expects a generous reception, considering the number of Hispanic surnames on the roster of lawmakers.
But early this week, at least one senator announced he would boycott the speech, and more are sure to follow – a protest against Mexican policies which have caused great economic harm to California. When Fox started his tour in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Tuesday, his audience had to be requested to stand up and applaud when he arrived for his first local address to church and business leaders.
Like most politicians, President Fox’s opinions are shaped mainly by what he reads and sees in the mainstream American media. He has been encouraged by the mass rallies and marches of the past few weeks, and emotional appeals for amnesty from leading lawmakers. But underlying this rosy view is a deep resentment by the great majority of Americans, who would rather talk about high fences, National Guard presence on the border and sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Our best suggestion for Senor Presidente, when he leaves Los Angeles Friday, is to fly over Mexico to its southern border, and try to cross as an unrecognized, undocumented immigrant. Perhaps he will wake up to the reality of sovereignty, which is the trend, not only here in America, but in the rest of the industrialized world.