The Bicentennial Understanding is the first step towards greater cooperation between Mexico and the United States, which has not been seen for years. With the Biden administration, a change of paradigm can be seen that implies an opportunity for our nation to strengthen collaboration with the neighboring country to the north in security; in other words, it is a step forward that speaks of good political relations, affirmed academics from the Center for Research on North America (CISAN) of the UNAM.
At the distance media conference "Bicentennial Understanding, the new vision of alliance between Mexico and the United States", Roberto Zepeda Martinez said: this agreement is the starting point from which clear objectives must be established; its success will depend on keeping communication channels open between both parties. In the U.S.-Mexico relationship, the main issues are security, migration, and trade, which are linked to a certain extent. If the relationship goes well on one issue, it can help strengthen the others, the specialist said.
Meanwhile, Raúl Benítez Manaut said that for this alliance to solidify "it would be ideal for there to be a presidential meeting; that would give it a higher level, for the presidents to seal it with a conversation". That opportunity could come on November 8 and 9, when the President of Mexico attends the United Nations, General Assembly.
The university professor recalled that the U.S. has been concerned in the last five years about the power of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation, which has introduced into our territory, through shipments coming from China, fentanyl that, together with methamphetamines, poisons the youth of the United States. Every year between 60,000 and 70,000 people die from this cause.
In Mexico, there has been an expansion of homicides, from eight per 100,000 inhabitants in 2007, to 23 per 100,000 inhabitants today. "The strategy of decapitating criminal organizations has failed and has led to the territorial expansion of cartels and the creation of others". From three large organizations of this type in 2007, today there are 10 and more than 200 subgroups or small criminal groups in the states.
Benítez Manaut pointed out that the Mexican government calculates that violence is a product of the free sale of arms in the US; there are more than nine thousand stores in Texas alone and this favors the cartels. However, it is also necessary to take into account the deficiencies of the customs control systems, which allow weapons to pass through. In addition, criminal organizations use human trafficking as a highly profitable activity.
The Understanding, he said, means an alliance between the political heads of both nations, the U.S. State, Homeland Security and Justice departments, and the Mexicans. There is trust and good relations. However, there are weaknesses in Mexico's security institutions and corruption.
Furthermore, he clarified, what was signed does not contain the concrete agreements, the programs in which the cooperation will be developed. It is a pending matter for both, Raúl Benítez added. "We do not know the specific amounts that the governments are going to dedicate to promote those programs; that will be known in one or two months, but a very large amount of money is needed for this to work."
When Roberto Zepeda took the floor again, he highlighted the cooperation to face a global problem such as security, which implies common challenges. The details of how the Bicentennial Understanding will be implemented are still unknown. The previous cooperation scheme, through the so-called Merida Initiative, was perfectible, especially considering the levels of violence in our country. "Another strategy was needed, more comprehensive, which also focuses on security, human security and health".
The Biden administration recognizes that the drug trafficking problem must be solved through cooperation with Mexico, unlike Donald Trump who promoted the construction of a border wall, the university academic mentioned. Three out of four people do not feel safe in the streets; this needed new actions within an international cooperation strategy. This understanding between both nations "marks a new era, a new stage" to face these issues, he reiterated.
The expert considered that without a decrease in the number of intentional homicides, we would be facing actions that cannot be qualified positively; however, the political rapprochement between both nations, even though it is a multidimensional and complicated relationship in issues such as migration, opens channels of communication. There is a willingness of both governments to have a cooperative approach to face this problem and it is expected to be favorable in the future.