If America defined Mexico in a word it would be "drugs." The word would not be “economy,” hinting to Mexico’s explosive jaguar growth, “automobile” which too is meteoric, or even “tamales,” which will be ubiquitous in the coming holiday weeks.
Considering America’s unquenchable thirst for drugs, the association might not be surprising. After all U.S. addiction fuels the drug war.
But, the incoming president is redefining Mexico with a different word, one sacred to the U.S.— “business.”
After his recent White House visit, Enrique Peña Nieto shifted the international focus on his country from the bodies; casualties which hang from a Nuevo Laredo bridge or quietly vanish in the war’s ever-growing fog.
Instead, he is dragging from the shadows adjectives Americans disassociate with their third largest trading partner: rising, reforming, ready. To his NAFTA partners, Peña Nieto is successfully selling his word in an old slogan: Mexico is open for business.
In Mexico, the business of his political party (PRI) is not new, it’s almost a century old. Metropolitan youth and activists have rallied viral hashtags calling the president’s election rigged and himself afraid of his own people. Making Twitter a new vehicle for an old sentiment.
But if you take the smoggy highways from Mexico City north, toward the dusty Fronteras, many miss the past, a time when the old business of corruption was peaceful. The sentiment is felt beyond Juarez.
If the drug war disruptions calmed, Mexico would be poised to continue its growth, benefiting its neighbor directly north greatly.
How do you quell a drug war that ravished the country for six years? Pena Nieto hasn’t really outlined his plans. However, if business is truly the new word of Mexico there must be security. In the past, security and peace were achieved through negotiation.
The cartels could be ready for peace, and the international community is definitely ready for a stronger trading partner. We’ll see if Peña Nieto’s government can translate the word “business” into a more peaceful and profitable country.