March 29, 2006 [LINK]
Mexico's view on emigration
That was quite a display of national pride by the flag-waving immigrants-rights protesters in Los Angeles and other cities, wasn't it? There is certainly no question as to which country their loyalty is owed. The Mexican government had a full-page ad in the Washington Post last week, [outlining] their general position on the immigration problem. Much of it consisted of bland euphemisms that were too vague to discern specific intentions with regard to policy, but there were a few notable points:
- Migration should be a shared responsibility, in the spirit of international cooperation.
- Mexico's migration policy must be evaluated and updated within 15 to 20 years. (no hurry)
- Mexico must strengthen the fight against smuggling of humans and document forgery.
- Mexico's north and south (!) borders should be secured and fortified.
- Each country has sovereign right to regulate entry, but the U.S. should fully incorporate existing undocumented persons into their communities.
- A guest worker program is a necessary part of solution; Mexico should participate in it.
- Guest workers should be encouraged to return home by tax breaks on construction of homes in Mexico, and by allowing U.S. pension benefits to be paid to retirees in Mexico.
Details are spelled out in a special report: Mexico and the Migration Phenomenon, from the Secretary of Foreign Relations. As for their southern border, the rigid policy of Mexico in resisting immigrants from Guatemala is well known to those who follow events in Mexico, but perhaps not to most Americans. "Do as we say, not as we do!" What is most distressing about the message from Mexico is the absence of any acknowledgment that the lack of job opportunities in Mexico results from public policies that discourage capital formation. To Mexico's credit, there was no hint that the terms of the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo (1848) should be reexamined. In all seriousness, I look forward to a series of frank, candid dialogues on how to address the immigration crisis. I do recognize that Mexico's political system is even more stagnated and resistant to reform than ours is, but that does not excuse inaction on either side of the border.
Financial scandal in Brazil
After an ugly scandal involving sex and violations of banking secrecy laws, Antonio Palocci resigned as Brazilian finance minister, and has been replaced by Guido Mantega. Palocci was considered a moderate who had the confidence of investors in Brazil, and his departure sparked a sell-off of the national currency, the real. President "Lula" da Silva is running for another four-year term in October, and his popularity has eroded because of the scandals over the past year, but no serious challengers are yet on the horizon. See washingtonpost.com.
Spring break in Cancun
Did any president ever need a Spring break more than George W. Bush? He left Washington and headed for Cancun this afternoon to meet with Mexico's lame-duck President Fox and with Canada's new Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This is the first time in nearly a century that all three countries have been led by conservatives* at the same time, and given the low prospects for President Fox's National Action Party in the upcoming elections, it may be a long time before a similar all-conservative summit happens again.
* Some conservative pundits such as George Will and Andrew Sullivan would question whether "W" is a genuine conservative.