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By Andres Oppenheimer
If Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto's first tour abroad is any indication of his foreign policy once he takes office, U.S. officials won't have to lose much sleep: it's going to look pretty much like Mexico's current foreign policy.
Pena Nieto's first foreign tour as president-elect started earlier this week in Guatemala, and was scheduled to include Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru before his return to Mexico on Wednesday.
That's almost the same itinerary as that of outgoing President Felipe Calderon's first foreign tour as president-elect in October 2006, when he visited Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
While Pena Nieto's
During his visit to Colombia on Tuesday, Pena Nieto stressed his support for free trade. He said that one of his top foreign policy priorities will be to strengthen the
The new bloc also hopes to join President Barack Obama's proposed
"As a country, we have to take on a role of greater responsibility in various regional and multilateral institutions, in particular, the
In his visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday, Pena Nieto also focused on strengthening business ties. His first stop was a visit to the
Judging from interviews with Pena Nieto's foreign policy aides, the Mexican president-elect is likely to pick a pragmatist with strong business connections, rather than an ideologue, as his foreign minister.
Among Pena Nieto's most likely picks for foreign minister are Jose Angel Gurria, the current head of the Paris-based
A senior Pena Nieto foreign policy adviser told me that Lozoya has the best chance, for the simple reason that Pena Nieto has shown a propensity to surround himself with his longtime trusted aides.
Gurria, Aspe and Lozoya have strong connections in the business world, while Montano is closer to Mexico's diplomatic service. Notably absent from the list is Beatriz Paredes, the former PRI president and former ambassador to Cuba who was reported to be a candidate for the job, and would have been more likely to have steered foreign policy on a more leftward course.
My opinion: Pena Nieto's post-election words and actions, as shown in his first foreign tour, are sticking to his campaign promise to lead a pragmatic foreign policy, with an emphasis on free trade and investments. My main concern is that it is likely to downgrade Mexico's growing commitment in recent years to human rights and the collective defense of democracy.
As I wrote in a recent column after interviewing Pena Nieto in Mexico City, when I asked him about his foreign policy positions, he recited Mexico's old doctrine of "non-interference" in other countries' affairs - a term that was often used by PRI governments in the 20th century to justify close ties with some of the world's worst dictatorships - and didn't mention human rights until I reminded him about them.
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