More diplomacy and political skill required in US-Mexico relations, Baker Institute expert says

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David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Jeff Falk
713-348-6775
jfalk@rice.edu

More diplomacy and political skill required in US-Mexico relations, Baker Institute expert says
Payan: Underlying disagreements are the result of important shifts in the Mexican political landscape

HOUSTON – (May 1, 2013) – As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Mexico and meet with still-new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tomorrow, the relationship between the two countries may be poised for a rocky time; more diplomacy and political skill will be required from Washington if the relationship is to work, according to Tony Payan, a scholar for immigration studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The two main issues to be discussed during Obama’s visit are security and the economy, Payan said. “On the surface, both countries appear to agree that these issues are central to the binational relationship. The agreement, however, ends there. The two countries do not see eye-to-eye on the order of priority, the level of importance or even the approach to each of these issues, particularly security.”

Payan said the underlying disagreements are the result of important shifts in the Mexican political landscape. “What has changed in Mexico is at once simple and complex,” he said. “At a simple level, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is back in power after 12 years out of office. Naturally, a different party in power implies a different approach to the binational agenda. At a more complex level, the PRI’s return entails two important changes that Washington may not like but will have to digest.”

In addition to being a Baker Institute scholar, Payan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso and serves on the graduate faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. His area of study is international relations, with an emphasis on U.S. and Mexican foreign policy and U.S.-Mexico relations. He is the author of “The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security” and other books.

The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Payan. For more information, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

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Related materials:

Payan biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/tpayan.

Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog

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