Thursday, June 13, 2024

US and Mexico mark bicentennial of diplomatic relations

The U.S. and Mexico are celebrating 200 years of diplomatic relations with events and statements focused on the two countries’ shared values at a time of ongoing economic tensions.

The relationship between the two countries began in 1822, when the U.S. formally recognized Mexico’s independence from Spain. On Dec. 12 of that year, U.S. President James Monroe received José Manuel Zozaya as the first Mexican diplomat to the U.S.

“As the closest neighbors and friends, we share a set of values that form the root of our strength. We share an enduring commitment to freedom, democracy, and rule of law. And we share a strong and deepening economic and security partnership that has made North America the most competitive and dynamic region in the world,” U.S. President Biden said in a formal statement.

To mark the occasion, President López Obrador held a meeting with U.S. officials at the National Palace in Mexico City, and Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard led a celebration involving the signing of a “Declaration of Friendship.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Ebrard and U.S. diplomat Chris Dodd sign the "Declaration of Friendship."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Ebrard and U.S. diplomat Chris Dodd sign the “Declaration of Friendship” on Monday. (SRE)

“We do not have identical interests, sometimes we do not agree on everything, and that is how it should be. Our two countries are different, but few countries in the world have the relationship that Mexico has with the United States,” Ebrard said.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico encompasses several areas, including trade, migration, security, and culture. The two countries share a 3,200-kilometer land border and have been party to multiple shared treaties, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

The U.S. and Mexico’s economic relationship is of mutual significance. The U.S. is Mexico’s most important trade partner, and Mexico is among the U.S.’s top three (along with China and Canada). About US $1.2 million worth of products crosses the border every minute, totaling $661.2 billion in 2021. 

In recent months, relations between the two countries have been strained. In July, the U.S. requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico due to alleged trade violations in the energy sector, an issue that has yet to be resolved. Mexico also plans to phase out imports of genetically modified corn by January 2024, stoking fears of major trade disruptions — though economic officials say that delaying the ban is still on the table.

One of the most tense moments of conflict between the neighboring nations came in 2020 when the U.S. arrested former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos, significantly altering the course of U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. The incident led to a near-complete suspension of intelligence sharing between Mexican and U.S. officials, with the López Obrador administration refusing to grant visas to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials for months after.

Despite setbacks, the two countries plan to collaborate to improve Mexico’s capacity to produce clean energy, and a new security pact called the Bicentennial Framework, which aims to tackle the problem of organized crime, took effect late last year.

The next major meeting of the nations’ leaders will be the North American Leaders Summit, scheduled for Jan. 9 and 10 in Mexico City. 

With reports from La Razón

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