Excerpts from an interview with Mexico’s new foreign secretary, Jose Antonio Meade, in advance of a May 2 visit to Mexico City by President Barack Obama. McClatchy interviewed him in Washington.
On repairing relations with Cuba:
“We think that Cuba is engaged, as the Cuban administration has said, in a transition process. . . . We will very much want to be part of that transition. Cuba is very important for Mexico. It has been very important to Mexico historically; we have a close relationship. We are neighbors in a sense; we share the same seas. We share many cultural ties, and Cuba is important in terms of our bilateral relationship. That is signified by the caliber of the ambassador that we are now sending.”
On working with Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro’s government:
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“Part of that ongoing process, I think, in terms of Mexico was to be respectful to the Venezuela authorities, in terms of the election and signifying an intention to work closely with them to generate a better environment, not just for the relationship between Mexico and Venezuela, but also to contribute to generating a good environment in Venezuela.”
On President Enrique Pena Nieto’s decision to visit South America before Washington:
“Latin America, for Mexico, is a very important and strategic relationship. We are very involved in Latin America. We think it’s time to take the Latin American integration more seriously.”
On the Senate bill that would revamp U.S. immigration laws:
“It’s something that we welcome and that we support. We think it’s a very good starting point on immigration. . . . Having a better legal status for immigration in the U.S. will definitely allow for the participation of immigrants, to engage in a more constructive and positive fashion in the U.S. economy, to contribute more than they’ve already contributed. And that will be good for Mexico and good for the U.S.”
On the need for a regional discussion about marijuana:
“The impact over the market, over the way we choose to frame the issue of drugs, will have an impact on revenue. . . . It will have an impact in terms of prices. It will have an impact in terms of criminal organizations, not only in the U.S. but abroad. . . . The market is a regional market and will be affected by whatever specific country wants to do. Mexico is not the most relevant market. We are not the most relevant market player. Therefore we won’t define . . . that market. That is a debate that will probably happen outside of Mexico, but the result of that debate will have an impact. And that is why we have to raise the importance of having it.”
On the need for better U.S. gun control, to prevent the smuggling of guns to Mexico:
“That also affects our security environment. . . . We want to see . . . an environment that is more conducive to strengthening the security environment south of the border as well. And that should be part of what is reflected upon when looked at from the perspective of regulation that has nothing to do with the Second Amendment rights or debate. It just has to do with what type of regulations make that result more likely than others. And we would like to see a better regulatory environment that makes it more unlikely for guns to be in the hands of those who should not have them.”
On why Mexico hopes to be part of any U.S.-European Union free-trade agreement:
“We think that the end result of this process – and we want to participate as early as possible – is to have a North American-European Union-type agreement. We think that in the medium term, three bilateral agreements with Europe do not add up to one regional agreement between the NAFTA region and the European Union. That can be constructed in many different sequences.”