We are concerned about violations against Mexicans in the US: Ruiz Massieu

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Mexico's Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu talked about the North American integration process and the human rights situation in Mexico.

Foreign Minister Ruiz said that Mexico is the first, second or third largest trading partner of 30 U.S. states and that six million American jobs depend on the bilateral relationship with Mexico. (Photo: Yadín Xolalpa, EL UNIVERSAL)
English 27/06/2016 12:03 Carlos Benavides Actualizada 12:14
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At a time when unification in the world is taking a step backwards with the UK leaving the European Union, North America faces the challenge to prove to critics that the integration process has brought significant benefits to Mexico, the United States and Canada, Mexico's Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said.

Today Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet in Canada. U.S. President Barack Obama will join them on Wednesday to hold the North American Leaders' Summit and advance the integration process of the region.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Ruiz talked about the State visit and the summit, but also about the human rights situation in Mexico, that has been questioned by international agencies, NGOs and even governments like the United States.

 

This is an important week for North America. What can you tell us about it?

This trip is very important because it is the first state visit of President Peña Nieto to Canada. It is also the first time Prime Minister Trudeau invites a leader since he took office in November, and this shows the sense of priority and importance that Canada gives to Mexico. We are partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the arrival of the Minister Trudeau has brought us closer. We will seek to deepen our relationship and strengthen bilateral exchanges, but also to review common positions and areas of cooperation in energy, innovation and entrepreneurship, gender empowerment and indigenous rights, an agenda in which we share many positions with Canada. We will also create a high-level strategic group. On Wednesday we will hold the trilateral summit of North American Leaders with President Obama in which, based on four pillars, we will review our agenda to strengthen our shared vision of North America as a competitive and prosperous region that becomes stronger as it integrates and increases mobility of goods, capitals and people.

 

What are the four pillars that you mentioned?

Environment and energy, competitiveness, security and defense, and regional and global issues.

We will review how to improve energy efficiency, how to ensure that goods can travel among the three countries more efficiently and our border infrastructure and regulations in order to streamline people flows. We will also discuss the challenges we share as a region such as security and terrorism and how to cooperate to strengthen the institutional capacities of the Central American region.

 

You talk about an integration process of North America that seems inevitable and desirable. How would you compare what is happening in North America versus what happened in Europe?

The decision made by UK citizens impacts the world in general. The European Union will have to redefine several things about its members and the United Kingdom has two years to define how it relates to the European Union and its trading partners.

I think for us in North America it is clear that the integration we've experienced in the last twenty years has been extremely favorable. Intra-regional trade among the three countries has increased by about 400%, while our trade with the United States has grown over 500%, almost 600%. With information and data it is important to show that this view is the right one.

 

Aren't you worried that in the next U.S. elections the North American integration process could be reverted?

For sure it is one of the challenges that we face, but the success stories are obvious.

In the case of the United States with Mexico, it is clear that we not only are have a strategic relationship but for us the U.S. is our largest trading partner and we are the first, second or third largest trading partner of 30 U.S. states. Six million American jobs depend on the bilateral relationship with Mexico and the dynamics we have had in recent years have increased U.S. competitiveness.

Yesterday that I was in Arizona I said that 111,000 jobs in that state depend on bilateral trade, in California 700,000 and in Texas a similar amount.

 

Would it be possible for the next U.S. president to revert this integration process?

The NAFTA states that any of its members may terminate the treaty, but in real life the dynamics of integration, shared construction and production are so real that it does not seem feasible to undo them, especially because logic dictates that if you impose barriers on something that works it has negative effects.

 

Recently Mexico has experienced difficult times, for example what happened in Oaxaca, where people were killed, and with entrepreneurs expressing their complaints on the streets. Is it difficult to speak well of Mexico abroad when these things are happening inside?

I would say that Mexico is a country valued by the international community. Not only because of its economic weight -we are the fifteenth economy in the world- but also because of the transformation process promoted by the President of the Republic. The reforms have been a model in many countries and are one of the reasons for which the world and our partners follow what happens in Mexico with much interest.

Mexico faces challenges, no doubt, but what we always do given the solidarity and concern shown by some of the countries with which we have a relation is to inform them and talk about the situation, and contextualize and repeat what is true: the uncompromising commitment of the President to overcome the challenges that we face.

 

Several international organizations, NGOs and even governments like the United States have expressed concern about human rights violations in Mexico, which in some cases has been called “systematic”. Do you agree with that vision? What is Mexico doing to avoid being perceived this way or to prevent this from happening in the country?

No doubt, Mexico faces challenges on human rights issues like the rest of the countries, and it is legitimate for our partners and friends to ask us about specific incidents, as we also express concern about specific events happening in other nations.

We are concerned, for example, about the dynamics experienced by our co-nationals in the United States, or the attack in Orlando last week, or other events that have happened in Europe before. This is part of the dialogue between countries and mature democracies, and in this sense the government of Mexico reaffirms its uncompromising commitment to the promotion and defense of human rights.

The entry into force of the New Criminal Justice System is one of the steps taken by the Mexican government to build a legal and judicial system that puts citizens at the center of the system.

Other examples are the bills sent to Congress regarding torture or enforced disappearances, the enormous resources allotted to train public servants and create programs to promote human rights, as well as the equal marriage proposal made by President Peña Nieto.

In fact, Mexico is one of the most open countries to international scrutiny on human rights issues. We are the seventh most open country to such scrutiny, the one that has been visited by more special rapporteurs and observers in the last 20 years.

 

In the case of the United States, would you say that criticism and self-criticism should exist among partners?

Partners and friends should always be able to talk and address issues of concern, and that is the attitude of the government of Mexico and the way we deal with our partners and friends.

 

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