Menace in Mexico and the immigration debate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

In its debate over how to change the U.S. immigration system, Washington neglected the impact in Mexico – which faces a crossroads election this summer.

And Mexico’s choice could not be more important to the United States.

On July 2, the Mexican people will decide whether to elect ultra-leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as AMLO) as their next president.

Email newsletter signup

Rumors have abounded for months that Lopez Obrador’s campaign is getting major funding from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And last month Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz)., a moderate Republican, told several Mexican legislators that he had intelligence reports detailing revealing support from Hugo Chavez to AMLO’s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Chavez is a firm ally of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Lopez Obrador could be the final piece in their grand plan to bring the United States to its knees before the newly resurgent Latin left.

Between them, Venezuela and Mexico export about 4 million barrels of oil each day to the United States, more than one-third of our oil imports. With both countries in the hands of leftist leaders, the opportunity to hold the U.S. hostage will be extraordinary.

Think we have security problems now, with Vicente Fox leading Mexico? Just wait until we have a 2,000-mile border with a chum of Chavez and Castro.

Lopez Obrador is not inevitable. Recent polls show the candidate of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN), Felipe Calderon, closing in. But much will hinge on the resolution of the immigration debate now roiling Congress.

Lopez Obrador has attacked U.S. attempts to restrict Mexican immigration and will benefit tremendously if Congress alienates the Mexican electorate. A recent survey by John Zogby found that two-thirds of Mexicans feel Americans are racist and biased against them. A harsh shift in U.S. immigration policies could fuel a leftist victory in Mexico.

Mexicans are deeply offended by the idea of a wall designed to keep them out. Building a wall on the boarder without also starting a guest-worker program will play badly in Mexico. A wall with a guest-worker program might go down better, particularly if the legislation didn’t include punitive provisions making illegal immigration a felony.

I have worked as a consultant for Fox and PAN, so I appreciate the delicacy of the political situation in Mexico. In Fox’s election in 2000 ended the 71-year authoritarian rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) heavily dominated by old corrupt leaders linked to the drug traffic, Now PAN has nominated Calderon, once Fox’s energy minister, to run for president.

The PRI’s candidate this year, Roberto Madrazo, is widely expected to finish third – the party is still identified in the popular mind with the corruption of the past.

Most observers feel the race will be between Lopez Obrador and Calderon. While the PAN candidate would be no puppet of the United States, he is fully committed to free market economics and wants a close relationship with our country. Lopez Obrador would be part of the Latin America’s new, anti-U.S. left in.

That Latin Left includes Venezuela’s President Evo Morales, who won as an overtly pro-cocoa-cultivation candidate. And in Peru, Ollanta Humala, a Chavez ally, is likely to finish first in this month’s election and probably will win the runoff.

But Mexico, with its vast oil resources and its long border and free-trade agreement with the United States, would be the crown jewel for America’s enemies. We have only to hope that Congress won’t pass legislation that alienates the Mexican electorate and delivers the country into AMLO’s hands.