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Border & Immigration

Can Peña Nieto Change The Western Perception Of Mexico?

Credit: Vianovo
Credit: Vianovo

Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto is seeking to change the global perception of his country. After his meeting with President Barack Obama this week, one agenda item is coming to light: Mexico wants to shift the international focus from cartel decapitations to economic growth and potential. From The New York Times:

Mr. Peña Nieto, who visits Canada on Wednesday, has made it clear that Mexico’s poor image abroad has slowed its growth. His team plans a strong push to “modernize” trade deals, speed up or add new crossings at the border for commerce, court foreign investment to take advantage of vast, newly discovered shale gas fields near the United States border and generate more quality jobs like the ones here in Querétaro.

The Mexican economy is going gangbusters. According to research economists, this decade Mexico could transform into a “jaguar” economy, surpassing Brazil as the largest in Latin America. And, for now, at least according to some accounts, cartel violence is slowing down. The Economist:

Cities such as Juárez show that Mexico’s violence could subside as quickly as it erupted. The speed of improvement has made some people wonder if a deal has been struck within the criminal underworld. Stratfor, an American consultancy, says that Sinaloa has battered the Juárez cartel into submission and done something similar to the Tijuana cartel, a few hundred miles west in Baja California. There, murders are about a third down on 2010.

For every fact and article that suggests stability and economic mobility of Mexico, there unfolds grisly reports that further cast it as a violent pariah.

Both are true. Yet, it seems that news of violence affects American's perception of the country more. Here is a how Americans responded to the question: "Thinking about Mexico, what are three words that come to mind?"

With the transition of power of politics in the country, there is a split personality fighting for Mexico. It is schism between the ongoing brutalities of a war, death, drugs and disappearings and the overshadowed economic promise and prosperity, which has existed, arguably, just as long.

Next week, we’ll start to see which face emerges and if it affects how we perceive Mexico.