The U.S, mid-term elections have been pointed out as a referendum on the party in control. In fact, the election results have been looked at as a vote of punishment for President Obama’s presidency.
The outcome was serious enough to wrest control of the House of Representatives and several governorships and mayors of enormous importance from the Democrats. The balance overall is obviously negative for the Democrats.
The implications of this electoral process in Mexico are many, certainly covering various aspects of our bilateral relationship, but something that is increasingly difficult to predict. At the very least, one can make three guesses about what is plausible to expect.
In principle, it is clear that if, before the midterm elections, it was difficult to launch a process of discussion of immigration reform, it will now be even more complicated. President Obama will have to meet and negotiate a package of bills with the Republican Party to bring about full economic recovery. One of the topics on the discourse agenda will likely include immigration reform.
The new confederation of forces in the U.S. Congress, as the Ambassador of Mexico in the U.S. has been warning is really not helping to push the immigration issue in American political discussion. On the one hand, it is pointed out, there is the economic priority and on the other hand there are important leaders in the Republican Party and venerable old John McCain himself, another driver of the migration agenda. They are defending positions that have hardened into inflexibility on this important issue.
Secondly, it seems that the Republican victory in the House of Representatives and the so-called“new wave conservative” will be useful for resolving important trade disputes and advance the trade integration agenda. However, the current trade dispute with China and the deteriorating state of the U.S. economy might even generate some protectionist pressures from the Republican Party itself, with eye down the road toward winning the upcoming election.
Third, U.S. cooperation related to bilateral efforts against organized crime could be strengthened as well as improvements in control policies and border security realized.
Obama clearly lost the opportunity to pursue, in the first period of his mandate, many issues of mutual interest to Mexico and the U.S., and we can point directly to immigration reform. However, as in any democracy, solid victories and defeats are, with all its causes and implications, temporary and relative.
In contrast, Ray Walser, a political analyst at the Heritage Foundation of America, told CNN that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives will not be all that bad for Mexico.
While it agreed that the immigration issue could cause a hardening on some initiatives, he explained that, for other examples like trade issues and the fight against organized crime, these could suddenly come unlocked if the Democratic initiatives fail.
“I think in some areas such as trade, they will push legislation that not only will benefit Mexico, but also have a positive impact on the issue of cross-border transport.
“As a more conservative Congress,” according to Ray Walser, “…they will be more stringent with respect to the legality of the use of drugs. They will probably try to support measures seeking to reduce demand in the U.S. and there will be more willingness to support a partnership with Mexico in the fight against organized crime,” he added.
Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Woodrow Wilson Center for Studies Institute, predicted little change in policy between Mexico and its neighbor to the north. “It is unlikely that the political relationship between the two countries,” he said, “will change. But there will be more political noise surrounding the immigration issue, because many congressional Republicans were victorious when they used anti-immigrant slogans in their political campaigns, “he explained.
However, since the U.S. Senate was able to maintain a Democratic majority, it appears unlikely that any extreme conservative initiatives will be approved without some difficulty.
Adriana González Carrillo, Secretary of the North American Commission of the Mexican Senate, also told CNN that lawmakers should strengthen their lobbying, especially with their counterparts in the neighboring states of Mexico. Do this, she said, to prevent anti-immigrant laws from being adopted.
Jorge Ramirez Marin, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico, observed that although it is expected that a large part of the Republicans “pull the cord” on immigration, bilateral efforts such as the Merida Initiative suggests that there… “is very good consensus among Republicans and Democrats to not see it at risk.” There were 4,339,838 votes accounting for 54% of the electorate voting against the recreational use of marijuana, which remains illegal in California. The reactions were swift. Gil Kerlikowske, Anti-Drug Policy Director of the White House had this to say on the 2nd of November: “Today, California voters recognized that legalizing marijuana would not give us healthier citizens and it will not solve the budget crisis.
Neither will it diminish the violence of the cartels in Mexico, so it’s better not to do anything different but stay the course.” However, on September 30th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation (Senate Bill No. 1449), proposed by a Democratic State Senator from California, which equates the possession of marijuana with a traffic violation. In this way it eliminates the possibility of arrest, a trial and costly long-term imprisonment.
Instead it treats the offense with an administrative penalty. While Proposition 19 was not able to become law during this election, considerable debate both within the country and internationally ensued. Immediately, quick to react, President Obama said the Federal Government’s refusal to legalize marijuana stood firm, and he reiterated support for the fact that even if legalized, violations of federal law would continue to be pursued.
Similarly, Felipe Calderón of Mexico, expressed his disapproval and rejection of this proposal. His position is certainly not surprising coming from the Head of a State which is spending billions of dollars and has lost many lives of military and police personnel in order to pursue the drug war.
The rejection of Proposition 19 in California, which sought to legalize various aspects of the use and production of marijuana, was something positive for the Mexican government even though it appears to promote the legalization of drugs, Walser points out.
Ramirez Marin suggested, meanwhile, that even when the rejection showed that “not ready” for legalization, “this debate will be certain to continue.”