Professor calls for more U.S.-Mexico integration

June 12, 2002|By MATT YOUNG

Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — If American border communities want to solve problems such as pollution coming from Mexico, more U.S.-Mexico integration needs to occur, a Mexican university professor said Tuesday.

The professor also suggested that North American countries adopt a structure similar to the European Union.

‘‘Neither the U.S. nor Mexico is looking at border issues seriously,'' said Isabel Studer of the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Mexico City. ‘‘More integration between the countries would help'' border communities.

Interviewed after her speech to the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Studer said ‘‘formal bilateral institutions'' to address border problems don't exist, but such groups could address issues like finding ways to clean up the highly polluted New River, which flows into the Salton Sea after starting in the Mexicali area.


That's true, according to Imperial County Executive Ann Capela, but there are some informal business networks between the county and Mexico. Still, inter-border environmental associations are lacking, she said.

Formal U.S.-Mexican institutions ‘‘would help us to examine issues such as cross-border pollution,'' Capela said.

While integration efforts have been hindered by a protectionist atmosphere that has permeated Capitol Hill since Sept. 11, it still may be possible to make progress, Studer said, noting that the last major integration plan, the North American Free Trade Agreement, had seemed an impossible goal at the end of the 1980s, yet it was passed by Congress in 1993.

But border communities don't have to wait for Washington bureaucrats to create cross-border institutions, said Stephanie R. Golob, assistant professor of political science at Baruch College, City University of New York, who also addressed the group. They can do it themselves, she said.

That may not be such a far-fetched idea.

Alejandro Moreno, director of research for the Mexican newspaper Reforma, told the audience that while North America comprises Mexico, the United States and Canada, ‘‘the border is like a fourth country.'' It's a place that ‘‘creates a new culture and way to do things.''

But Mexican institutions tend to be outdated, undemocratic and corrupt, which hinders further assimilation with the modern democracies of Canada and the United States, said Stacey Wilson-Forsbery, a policy analyst for the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, which seeks to strengthen Canada's relations with Latin America.

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