Traditionally the international activity of the states was carried out by the central governments, in the case of Mexico, the actions of the Mexican State beyond its borders were the responsibility and, constitutionally, they continue to be, of the federal government. Mexico’s foreign policy, according to the Constitution in its article 89, is the responsibility of the executive with the approval of the Senate, notwithstanding this rigorous and traditional vision has been changing exponentially in recent decades and the entities of the Federation have become in relevant actors on the international stage.
In Mexico, some entities such as Guadalajara, Colima, Oaxaca, Veracruz, from their own state or municipal governments, have established international positioning agendas, particularly in the promotion of cultural heritage. While the entities in the north of the country such as Baja California, Chihuahua, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, their international agenda is increasingly intense and includes various items ranging from issues related to water management, environmental issues, an intense commercial exchange to which are added security agendas such as arms trafficking, drug trafficking and migration that each day acquires greater prominence, thus cross-border governance is consolidated and with it a dynamic called paradiplomacy, that is, the international activity of subnational political units.
Today, Mexico’s image on the international scene is seriously damaged and the foreign policy that for decades enjoyed high prestige and recognition is slowly losing that status. This crisis is due, on the one hand, to the decisions and declarations of the President of the Republic, among which stand out his position against clean energy, his questioned infrastructure projects such as the Mayan train, the Santa Lucía airport, and the construction of the Tres Bocas refinery, among other initiatives, which, in addition to the ecological impact they generate in the interior, have affected important foreign investments, to which we must add their position against undemocratic regimes such as Venezuela and Nicaragua. Additionally, we have mentioned the erratic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that today has not managed to inoculate the entire adult population and that refuses to accept the vaccination of minors contrary to the guidelines of the world organization of the health and practices of a good number of developed countries in the world.
To this crisis in our country’s foreign policy must be added the lack of vocation of the secretary of foreign affairs on duty, whose sights are more set on his own political career towards the presidency than on attending to the urgent issues of the office that was assigned to him. Day after day, the media point out the lack of direction, the excesses, and the decisions that this secretariat makes with little or no attention to the foreign service law and the series of laws and regulations to which it should respond.
The recent appointments of consuls general and ambassadors who will be responsible for representing Mexico in the countries to which they have been appointed is further proof of the aforementioned crisis. . People with little or no experience in the area of international relations have been appointed to serve as ambassadors and consuls in Barcelona, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Brazil, Russia and Panama, among others. Characters such as Pedro Salmerón, Claudia Pavlovich, Carlos Miguel Aysa, Laura Esquivel, Eduardo Villegas, among others, are a clear example that political appointments continue to cloud what should be one of the most prestigious activities, representing Mexico in the world.
Something that should encourage us is that beyond the centralist vision of our country’s international activities, where links to the outside world are dominated by a secretariat stagnant in vices and practices with little legitimacy, every day international actions are gaining visibility from the states and municipalities. Paradiplomacy is gradually gaining ground, state governments such as Nuevo Leon are reluctant to accept the slowness of programs of extreme need such as the vaccination of their population. The cross-border vaccination program managed and executed by the current government of Nuevo León headed by Samuel García is a clear example that excites us to think that things can be done better by state and local governments.
The author is a Doctor in International Relations, specialist in Global Affairs and International Politics. Research professor at the School of Government and Social Sciences of the Tecnológico de Monterrey.