Calderon's Latin American Initiative: A Few Concerns

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on March 3, 2010

Last month, as Mexican President Felipe Calderon hosted a meeting where Latin American and Caribbean leaders agreed to form a new regional organization that will include Cuba while excluding the United States and Canada, the initiative received little attention in the U.S.

The New York Times did note -- on page A8 -- that some of the leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, would like the new bloc to supplant the Organization of American States, which they and other critics say is dominated by the United States. The story added that Calderon said "Mexico would continue to participate in the O.A.S."

According to an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "U.S. diplomats in Washington ... downplayed the significance of the new group, which could take years to form. Nevertheless, the meeting in Mexico and the possible emergence of a bloc to replace the OAS should prompt a re-examination of U.S. policy toward the region, especially Cuba."

Now comes Mexican immigration scholar Jorge Bustamante, expressing concern that Calderon's enthusiasm for the new organization -- which has yet to be named -- could have a negative effect on Mexicans living in the U.S.

Writes Bustamante in today's edition of the Mexico City daily Reforma: "I'm not against seeking a Latin American brotherhood, but I am against confusing facts with sentiments." He notes that "millions of Mexican citizens live in the United States in conditions that require our attention and active solidarity. From them we receive our second largest source of foreign currency, which sustains the national economy."

Bustamante goes on to say that Mexicans "can't afford to exclude from regional alliances the country with which we have our largest border" and a major economic relationship. He says that to make such observations is to be "neither pro-gringo nor anti-Latin American. These are simply facts of our reality, which the president of Mexico does not seem to be recognizing."