jueves, mayo 25, 2006

The Wall

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times
about Mexican views on the proposed wall to be built at the US border with Mexico to try to stop illegal immigration. Many Mexicans believe that a wall is the best thing that could happen to migrant workers and all Mexicans, for that matter, because it would force the government to come up with economic and social reforms that are long overdue because the porous border with the US was seen as a convenient way out of that. Apparently, Presidente Vicente Fox has been accosted with this wall thing at every stop during his current US tour. He says that he is prepared to deal with stronger monitoring of the border, as long as that comes with increased legal means to help immigrants move legally.

The point made in the article was excellent. When one's safety net is taken away, one must learn to do for self. I hope that happens, but we can only wait and see. Unfortunately, it's going to be really hard to make certain Latin American countries whose economy is mostly made up of remittances from relatives in the US (as it has been for what seems like eternity) finally INdependent of this country. Moreover, diplomacy will have a very important part to play here, because it will be very simple for many in Latin America to look at the wall as the US not wanting any more to do with the region, especially already established America-haters who are quick to pounce on anything and everything in their war of words with this country, and I'm positive that that's not the message Bush would want to send. Unfortunately, the US government doesn't have the greatest reputation for reaching out to folks and I think misunderstandings will abound.

The relationship between the US and Latin America is very symbiotic and has been such a mainstay for such a long time, it will be hard to reverse that. I don't really like the idea of putting up a wall, as I believe that has many unsavory connotations, but if it will make Latin American countries address the root causes of immigration instead of bragging about how much money they get in remittances, then let's give it a go. But I wonder what will happen to the US side of things should a wall go up. The US will lose its steady supply of cheap labor, obviously, and would this exchange end with someone saying "Mr. So-and-so, tear down that wall"?

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