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25 February 2009

Must Read - The dangerous border

By MARTIN WALKER, UPI Editor Emeritus

The Mexican border is becoming a dangerous place for its economy. This week the three state universities of Arizona warned their students not to go to Mexico for spring break.

This followed an earlier warning from the U.S. State Department, known as a Travel Advisory, that crime rates have increased sharply in the border towns of Tijuana, Juarez and Nogales, Mexican cities that have seen public shootouts in daytime in areas like shopping centers. The Advisory warned that criminals have followed and harassed Americans driving in border areas.

And on top of all the other damage inflicted on the United States by the drug trade, the weakness of its neighbor on the southern border carries deeper problems. For the past 20 years Mexico has been governed by moderate presidents who believed in free trade, open markets and close cooperation with the United States. But in the last election, Calderon won a hair's-breadth victory over the resurgent left, and a prolonged economic crisis is likely to bring to power a leftist Mexican government that will have more in common with Cuba's Castro brothers and the firebrand Hugo Chavez of Venezuela than with the pro-market moderates who took Mexico into NAFTA on the promise of prosperity that is turning hollow.

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