The 3 Amigos


The 10th North American Leaders’ Summit is currently taking place in Mexico among three countries that have been trying for decades to take advantage of the destiny that made them neighbors on a subcontinent whose exact border has never quite been determined with respect to whether it is the Rio Grande or the Suchiate River that separates Mexico from Guatemala.

They are three very different nations that ignored each other for years until they realized that neighborliness matters.

• Canada, a land of ice, member of the Commonwealth, whose head of state is the British monarch. It was founded by British and French adventurers who, like their neighbors to the south, displaced the native populations and achieved independence in 1867 without the need for war;

• The United States, a former British colony that broke ties with its patron; the land of the free and the brave; land of slaves; a country born with a manifest destiny, whose limits are not its geographic borders, but the entire planet; and

• Beautiful and beloved Mexico, Catholic, land of revolutions, emperors and ballads, a country that counts Day of the Dead one of its major holidays.

While Canada peacefully won the dispute with the United States over the gigantic island of Newfoundland, Mexico was stripped of more than 2 million square kilometers (about 772,000 square miles) by its neighbor, which paid Mexico $15 million in compensation. We fared better with Panama. North America covers an area of 24 million square kilometers (about 9 million square miles) and has a population of some 500 million inhabitants.

NAFTA, the free trade agreement signed in 1992, marked the beginning of a commercial integration that generated profound transformation in the economies of the three countries. The treaty that survived Donald Trump’s onslaught, today called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, created the world’s largest free trade zone, with insatiable manufacturing capacity, integrated supply chains and a growing exchange of services. A symptom of halfhearted integration, it still does not see the free movement of people, European Union style.

The bloc’s enormous commercial power has not translated into joint diplomatic strength because of the prevailing differences of vision originating, among other reasons, in their historical, cultural and religious heritage.

At a time when global geopolitics is in turmoil, with the United States and China in open competition, war in Ukraine and so on, this summit of the three friends should, in theory, be important enough that North America would recalibrate and deepen the nature of its relations.

So far, however, what we have is a very specific agenda, limited to trade, security, drug trafficking, migration and pandemics, an agenda which does not cover strategic issues in the challenging geopolitical environment of the 21st century.

The Anglo-American positions on Russia, climate change and the defense of democracy in Latin America, among other issues, exist in the positions of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Mexico.

At the end of the day, for the purpose of the alliance, Anglo is Anglo, and everyone else is everyone else.

About this publication


About Patricia Simoni 180 Articles
I began contributing to Watching America in 2009 and continue to enjoy working with its dedicated translators and editors. Latin America, where I lived and worked for over four years, is of special interest to me. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy the beauty of this rural state and traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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