Consul General of Mexico

More from this show

Join HORIZONTE as Carlos Flores-Vizcarra, the c�nsul general of Mexico in Phoenix, discusses Mexico President Felipe Calder�n’s first two years in office, the economy and more.

Jose Cardenas:
Thank you for joining us and Welcome to Horizonte. Before President Obama was inaugurated he met with México President Felipe Calderon to talk about the escalating drug war, violence, immigration, trade and other issues of concern between México and the United States. Joining me to talk about this and more is the Consul General Of México in Phoenix, Carlos Flores Vizcarra. Welcome again to Horizonte. It's good to have you back.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Thank you for having me, Jose.

Jose Cardenas:
This was an historic meeting. It was the only meeting that President Obama gave to another Head of state pre-election.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Yes. I think so because --

Jose Cardenas:
I mean pre-inauguration.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Right, President-elect Obama did not meet with any other head of State or president of a country except with the Mexican President, Calderon.

Jose Cardenas:
And they met in Washington, D.C.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Yes, President Calderon flew to Washington, D.C. where they met at the Mexican cultural house which used to be the former site of the embassy of México in Washington. And they spent over two hours together.

Jose Cardenas:
What did they talk about? What were the key issues?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, this is related basically through the interview that president Calderon gave as he was flying back to México. And the emphasis was split basically on the typical bilateral issues -- trade, the Economic relationship between the U.S. and México, how does it Impact not only trade but also Employment. And also they spoke very much about the concerns that President Obama has about the Environment.

Jose Cardenas:
Anything in particular? Were there certain areas of the border or bigger issues Than that it as relates to the environment?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
No. Apparently they referred in general terms to the immigration Issue; to specific topics such As the border control operatives are being conducted. But their conversation was I would say more cordial, more based on personal exchanges. And the tone in which President Calderon came back to México was Very optimistic.

Jose Cardenas:
There's been a lot of talk in the press about the drug war in Mexico, the war that President Calderon has launched on narcotics traffickers.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
That is very important. And I would say that maybe it is not well understood. And let me tell you, the drug problems that México has relate with a relatively new pattern of Domestic consumption of drug. Of course, of drugs being produced in México, are raised in México and exported basically to the U.S. And that is simply because of the fact that the U.S. is the largest consumer of drugs in the world. So it is very simple to try to confront or to analyze the phenomenon of drugs in México without understanding what is the, let's say, the end of that process.

Jose Cardenas:
What seems to be raising the most concern, though, are the Increasing numbers of homicides. They doubled. Drug-related homicides doubled. You have the justice department saying that the biggest organized crime threat to the United States is the drug cartels in México. How do you respond to those concerns or how did President Calderon respond to those concerns?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, I read some assessments, and declarations by American officers basically high ranking member of the military. But the way the Department of State tried to compare México as a threat to the U.S. with Pakistan, to us is totally out Of any proportion. What is going on in México is an Open and all out war against organized crime and that is something that we have to understand and be behind, President Calderon in doing so. Because this is a definition that will in the future affect also the U.S.

Jose Cardenas:
Well, there's great concern about the stability of the Mexican government which you have very high ranking government officials being assassinated in the streets in Mexico City, right across our own border you have the chief of police, state police I believe assinated Nogales.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, the harder the Mexican Government goes against the cartels, the tougher it will be for those who manage justice and all the operatives against them. Because they are, of course, being more vicious in the way they confront México. And Mexican officials. And we have seen that, and it also relates with another large issue that México and the U.S. have to come to grips and eventually make a high definition on it. And that is the way not only drugs are being smuggled into the U.S., but the number and the volume of firearms that are being smuggled from the U.S. on to México.

Jose Cardenas:
Which just fuels the problem?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Absolutely.

Jose Cardenas:
What about immigration? What discussions were had between the President and the President-elect?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, you know, the position Of the Mexican government basically is that we would officially would like to see a more orderly and legal process of immigration from México to The U.S. if it were the case. Now, the way immigration is right now, I would say that looking at the indicators, undocumented entries are down in a very dramatic way, and, of course, that has an impact on the casualties, undocumented immigration takes and the toll of deaths is dramatically down. Of course, the wall has been set up almost completely. That is something that the Mexican government did not support or like but it is up to the American government to decide whether they will maintain the same controls or eventually negotiate new terms of immigration law that will impact the income of México to The U.S.

Jose Cardenas:
And speaking of negotiations, are we likely to see a renegotiation of the NAFTA free trade agreement?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, President Calderon was very clear about this. He spoke, he discussed it with President-elect Obama and, of course, they touched base on issues such the environment and labor topics. But the compromise and the commitment is not to reopen free trade. The free trade agreement because it will damage both economies. That is the assessment of President Calderon.

Jose Cardenas:
And how do you see the differences between an Obama-Calderon relationship versus the one that the President had with President Bush?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, basically has to do with American domestic politics and the way the structuring of the executive is. If we take into account the way the campaign was plotted out by the Obama team, and how President Obama himself, and also the relationship that the executive will maintain with the American congress, and certainly there are new composition, there are new combinations there that I hope will recognize not only the importance of México as an economic partner to the U.S., as the third trading partner to the U.S., but also as the country that has influenced demographics in the U.S. to a point where Hispanics, and I would say regular American citizens of Hispanic descent had a lot to do with Obama's victory in states Such as Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah.

Jose Cardenas:
Any concern, though, that while President Obama certainly is experienced in world travels and something he touted in his recent, his first interview with The LRB network, really doesn't have that much relationship or history with countries south of the U.S. Border.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, it seems that everybody recognizes and admires President Obama's savvy for approaching different issues and different topics in his political agenda. I think that he's doing what he conceived to do, what he pretends to do in the future but eventually I will think he will give not only México but Latin America the importance that it needs.

Jose Cardenas:
We have only got a few minutes left. Let's talk now about Mexican nationals in the United States and in particularly in Arizona. The effect of the economic crisis here, what do you see? Do you see a lot of people going back to México?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Some have gone back to Mexico. Some have moved to other states. But if we tried to put it in context, the consulate of México in Phoenix has only increased its activity during the past four years.

Jose Cardenas:
And what are we talking about? When we say activity has increased in what sense?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
That is we have been able to produce more documents for Mexicans who reside in the state of Arizona. We have been able to expedite more visas to Americans who travel to México for business purposes. And we have been able to reach out to the Mexican communities to set up community programs for them, education and health, amongst other fields.

Jose Cardenas:
What about the change in gubernatorial administrations here in Arizona? Governor Napolitano, while at the same time the governor of a state that had enacted employer sanctions, so-called toughest in the nation, also seemed to enjoy A pretty good relationship with her Sonoran counterparts and with colleagues in Mexico City. How do you think the new governors going to do in that regard?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
I think that Governor Brewer will recognize -- I can almost tell that she's already very knowledgeable about the importance of the economic relationship between Arizona and Sonora and I believe that she will take care of that dearly. Because these are very exceptional economic times, dire economic times, and besides, you know, politics and partisanship, before that, we have to put -- forth the interests of Arizona as an economic partner to México.

Jose Cardenas:
And how do you think México views governor Napolitano's appointment as Homeland Security Secretary?

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
Well, that's a very promising officer, official with a high responsibility, and, of course, within her realm of responsibilities, she will have to deal and cope with a lot of immigration issues. And that is border issues and issues that relate with México. Fortunately, she's also very knowledgeable of that. She was so as a governor. She took the leadership in advancing some proposals such as temporary workers program between México and Sonora. So I think that we are, to see in the future more regional agreements that will in a way dissipate or diffuse the tensions we see at the border.

Jose Cardenas:
On that note, Consul General Flores, thank you for joining us on Horizonte. We will have you back again to see how these things do develop.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:
It's always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas:
Thank you.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra:Consul General Of México in Phoenix;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: