Mexico and its deadly drug war didn’t merit a mention in last night’s US presidential debate. That, despite the fact that the drug trade, and the violence that accompanies it has taken an estimated 60,000 Mexican lives.
Sergio Aguayo teaches at the Colegio de México. He says drug trafficking, and the effort to combat it should be front and center in US national security policy.
“We, in Mexico, have a war. And that war is having consequences for American national security,” Aguayo says. “I would have expected the recognition that something horrible is going on south of the border and that (officials) are starting to think and look at alternatives and work with the Mexican government.”
In 2008, pollsters from a group called World Public Opinion found 54% of Mexicans supported US President Barack Obama. Now, the faction that identifies itself as pro-Obama is down to 43%. Only 7 percent of Mexicans described themselves as pro-Romney.
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Marco Werman: As we mentioned earlier, Mexico wasn’t mentioned in the debate either. That surprised analyst Sergio Aguayo in Mexico City.
Sergio Aguayo: I was shocked. I was shocked by the indifference of President Obama and Governor Romney. It was unbelievable for me.
Werman: Right. Well, you tweeted last night, they talk about a humanitarian tragedy in Syria, thirty thousand deaths, and still don’t say anything about Mexico, some sixty thousand as a result of the drug war. Why do you think, given the numbers of Latino voters here, was this important relationship between the US and Mexico overlooked?
Aguayo: The American establishment tries to evade as much as they can, the humanitarian tragedy that we are suffering, because they don’t have an answer, they don’t have a solution, and it is better to ignore the tragedy even if it’s at your border than to start talking about a problem for which they don’t have a solution.
Werman: Is humanitarian tragedy and suffering just a tough political sell?
Aguayo: It has many elements. On the one part, the drugs that come from the south, from Mexico, to the US, and then the US that sells the weapons to Mexico and Central America and that is creating violence, and this is so intricate and so complicated for the American establishment, that they’d rather keep quite. There’s always the usual patronizing of Americans taking Mexico for granted. We are the doormat of the superpowers.
Werman: Sergio, what would you have wanted to hear from either candidate?
Aguayo: We, in Mexico, have a war and that war is having and will continue will to having consequences for American national security. I would have expected the recognition that something horrible is going on south of the border and that they are starting to think and look at alternatives and work with the Mexican government. I mean one knows that politicians have to be very careful and sometimes very general, but at least a recognition of what is going on in Mexico. And they were more worried about Pakistan than down to Mexico.
Werman: Let me ask you about Mexicans’ opinions of the two contenders here in the US presidential race. In 2008, pollsters from a group called “World Public Opinion” found fifty-four percent of Mexicans were pro-Obama. That was in 2008. Now, it’s forty-three percent. How do you explain that dip?
Aguayo: President Obama, I mean he has the appeal of his the color of his skin . . .
Werman: For Mexicans?
Aguayo: . . . his elements. Yes, for Mexicans. I mean he is more like us than Governor Romney. We Mexicans have a problem. I mean we don’t follow as we should what is going on in the US and perhaps that explains American indifference because our presidents are very humble when talking to Americans about their problems. And we Mexicans tend to forget that the Americans listen to those who return the [??]. And we have not been forceful enough to bring our case to the American people and to the American establishment. From the perspective, we tend to see the presidential elections in the US as something alien, as something that does not affect us. I am of the opinion that we should pay attention to the elections and we should try to bring our case to the American people. We have a war and we have a humanitarian tragedy.
Werman: Sergio Aguayo of the Colegio de Mexico. Thanks very much.
Aguayo: Thank you to you.
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