John M. Ackerman
The escape of Mexico's most dangerous criminal, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, from the most secure wing of the country's highest security prison this weekend is a wake-up call for those who insist on ignoring the explosive situation south of the border. The blind support of the Barack Obama administration for the increasingly corrupt, violent and untrustworthy Mexican government has facilitated a downward spiral of institutional decay which must be urgently stopped.
Donald Trump is wrong. The best response to the Mexican disaster is not to build new walls, but to tear them down. It is time for Washington to escape from the propagandists and lobbyists on the payroll of the Mexican government and international oil companies, in order to open its doors and listen directly to Mexico's powerful and dynamic civil society.
During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Obama publicly condemned George W. Bush's approach to Latin America as "clumsy, disinterested and, above all, distracted by the war in Iraq." Obama pledged that he would give high priority to Mexico in particular. He committed himself to organizing annual summits which would be "conducted with transparency" and grounded in "active and open involvement of citizens, labor, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress."
Seven years later, the Mexican people continue to wait for the promised democratic openness to come to fruition. Obama has met frequently with the Mexican presidents, first Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and then Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-present). He has also listened carefully behind closed doors to the private sector on both sides of the border. But transparency and citizen participation have been totally absent. Specifically, the voice of the Mexican people and of U.S.-based human rights organizations have been entirely shut out of the discussion...
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