Andres Rozental, a Mexican author, diplomat and Ambassador-for-life, talks to the editorial board about his country’s 2012 election, and a new book on the Canada-Mexico relationship, Canada Among Nations: Canada and Mexico’s Unfinished Agenda, to be published next month.
Q: Tell us about the upcoming book that you co-edited, with Alex Bugailiskis, a career diplomat with Foreign Affairs.
The book focuses on the Canada-Mexico relationship. Policy makers, politicians and journalists contributed chapters, including Globe and Mail editorial board member Marina Jimenez.
The book is part of a long-standing effort on my part and on the part of many Mexicans who really believe in a strong, close relationship with Canada. Since North American Free Trade Agreement was signed 17 years ago, the emphasis has been more on trilateral part of the relationship than the bilateral, even though bilateral part has been important in terms of growth of our economic, political, tourism ties, notwithstanding the visa issue. There is a very strong interest in Mexico in Canada. The book looks at security co-operation, co-operating at our mutual borders with the U.S., energy co-operation, more efficient use of energy, media relations. There is unfortunately not a strong presence of journalists covering either country. The book is also meant to try to dispel a growing feeling in Mexico that Canada was moving away from interest in Mexico, more towards a bilateral relationship with the U.S. There has been a fair amount of discussion in Canada about the bilateral versus the trilateral. The book is an effort to focus on the bilateral relationship Mexico and Canada have had and could have in the future. We are close geographically and we have close trade and tourism ties.
Q: What about the upcoming election?
Yes we have a presidential and Congressional elections, and eight or nine governorships. The full campaign begins at the end of March, so now everything is in a state of hibernation though the presidential candidates are busy making ‘social’ appearances. The front-runner is Enrique Pena-Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and he is leading by about 20 %. He is very young, charismatic, media-savvy and married to a good-looking soap opera star. The National Action Party (PAN) candidate is Josefina Vazquez Mota, former minister of education. She is savvy, charismatic and she has brought the party’s poll numbers up since her designation. She is in second place. The third candidate is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). He is our enfant terrible. He was the candidate against Pres. Calderon five years ago, and nearly beat him. He is left-of-centre, and is with the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). He has tempered his economic views.
We haven’t heard a great deal about what these candidates think regarding the major issues, starting with the anti-drug strategy initiated by Pres. Calderon, which has led to enormous violence and damage to Mexico’s image. We don’t know much about what they think in economic terms, how they would plan to make Mexico grow economically, or their positions on international affairs.
Q: Who will win?
The PRI likely. Will the PRI be the same old PRI we had for 71 years until 2000, or will it be a new party? I don’t know the answer. Mr. Pena-Nieto has assembled a youngish group of collaborators, some of whom were in previous PRI governments, but not all.
Q: How is the Mexican economy faring?