Mexico Cannot Resolve Their Biggest Crisis Alone
Mexico is confronted with three big challenges: a dearth of energy, a surge of migrants and a rise in murders. How these challenges are resolved will resonate far beyond its borders. The U.S. should offer Mexico a helping hand due to the fact that it has contributed to some of Mexico’s biggest problems. Namely, drug violence and the influx of people traveling through and from Mexico to the United States. This has put a huge strain on Mexico and its resources.
For U.S. and Mexico officials, the crisis of migration is one of the more pressing concerns. In the last five years, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans have crossed into Mexico on their way to the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump made several demands which were subsequently met by Mexico’s president. To keep any economic tariffs at bay, the president of Mexico took several steps to stem the number of migrants traveling to the United States. Migrants will be held in Mexico as the U.S gradually processes their asylums claims.
Local shelters, churches, and parks are being overwhelmed by migrants in Tijuana and other cities. Ciudad Juárez, a city with just 1,500 shelter beds, houses hundreds of migrants who are being returned each day. Migrant Protection Protocols is being extended by the U.S., a policy described by the shorthand ‘Remain in Mexico,’ to other border cities, none of which is ready nor willing to shelter, provide clothes and provisions, educate and treat the influx of migrants. The federal government of Mexico is intervening to alleviate these local burdens.
Violence too is battering Mexico. Last year was the most dangerous on record. Homicides continue to rise under the administration of López Obrador. Crime is on the rise all across Mexico. U.S. drug demand stimulates a part of it and it is made even more deadly with the influx of U.S guns. However, crime is made worse due to Mexico’s weak rule of law. The measures taken to ensure security and safety have been time-consuming at best and ineffectual at worst.
López Obrador is removing the federal police, defunding community policing and expanding the National Guard which will take years to occur. Security forces and the military are being pulled away from tackling crime and are sent after migrants instead. Without effective local and national forces fixated on security, Mexicans won’t feel safe any time soon.
His endeavors for reforms are destroying emerging efforts to advance the rule of law. The National Anti-corruption System is on the brink of being destroyed including a hard-fought civil society effort to take on rampant graft. Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement party has proposed curtailing the Supreme Court’s independence. Obrador believes enforcing justice counts more than enforcing the law.
Electricity availability is difficult in Mexico. Hotels are facing blackouts and hospitals lights are being dimmed. The failures are blamed on undergrowth fires, old power plants, and even the public comments of the independent Regulatory Energy Commission by the government. The real reason is that Mexico lacks gas. Half of Mexico’s energy use is powered by natural gas. Two-thirds of natural gas comes from abroad. Imports were reduced by the new government in December.
Aiding Mexico to confront these challenges is not about benevolence. What occurs there is significant for U.S. companies as Mexico is one of their largest export markets. It doubly matters for Texas, as Mexico is its largest trading partner and outside energy buyer.
The U.S. needs Mexico not to stumble. For López Obrador to succeed would be even better. A growing, prosperous and inclusive Mexico also promises huge benefits for its northern neighbor. Perhaps the biggest challenge now is to get both leaders to recognize this reality. There is a dire need for more U.S. help to deal with more Central American migrants, growing crime and growing energy supply needs.