MEXICO CITY – President-elect Felipe Calderon heads to Washington today to meet with President Bush amid a complicated political climate, with bombs going off in Mexico City and political fireworks in the U.S. midterm elections.
Calderon is scheduled to meet with Bush at the White House on Thursday. He also will visit with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, business leaders and Hispanic groups.
The Mexico City newspaper Reforma suggested Tuesday that the bombings early Monday of a bank, the headquarters of a political party and an electoral court in Mexico City might provide the perfect excuse for Calderon to cancel the trip. The president-elect is under pressure to denounce U.S. plans for a border wall.
“There are those who are suggesting to Felipe Calderon that he takes advantage of the (difficult) moment and cancel his visit to the United States,” said the unsigned editorial. “The reason is they feel that the moment is quite inopportune to go and talk with George W. Bush about bilateral issues.”
Calderon, who will be inaugurated Dec. 1, has downplayed the visit in terms of concrete results.
But he suggested Tuesday that he and Bush may have some common issues to discuss: insecurity and terrorism.
“It has to be said, in Mexico, that respect for the law is being lost,” Calderon told business leaders in the Pacific Coast resort of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, a new hotbed of drug-related violence.
“We must work arduously to recover the capacity of the state to confront crime and terrorism.”
U.S. officials, and especially U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza, have been warning Mexico of the consequences of growing drug violence and political upheaval, pressuring the government to do more.
U.S. tourism to Mexico is down this year, and an American journalist was killed in the capital of Oaxaca state last week while covering a clash between federal police and leftist demonstrators.
Calderon suggested at a news conference on Monday that one of his first acts as president would be to seek new funds from Mexico’s Congress to go after criminals and develop better intelligence-gathering capabilities to detect guerrilla groups, like the ones that took responsibility for Monday’s Mexico City bombings.
Among the specific topics on Calderon’s U.S. agenda, he said, are immigration and drug trafficking.
Calderon also said that he would make respectful arguments about the undesirability of a border wall “not only for the regional border economy, but rather for all Mexicans.”