This afternoon the President landed in Mexico, where he met with President Felipe Calderon in anticipation of the Summit of the Americas. Even before leaving, this morning he reached out to all of the nations who will be in attendance with an op-ed published in English, Spanish or Portuguese in the following papers: Trinidad Express (Trinidad & Tobago); St. Petersburg Times (USA); Miami Herald (USA); El Nuevo Herald (USA); La Nación (Argentina); O Globo (Brazil); El Mercurio (Chile); El Tiempo (Colombia); La Nación (Costa Rica); El Comercio (Ecuador); El Universal (México); El Comercio (Perú); El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico); El País (Uruguay); and El Nacional (Venezuela).
The President laid out his vision for the Summit in the op-ed:
As we approach the Summit of the Americas, our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future.
Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security.
But the President made clear that this commitment would be more than rhetorical. He pointed to the dramatic and long overdue shift in policy towards Cuba, and forthrightly pointed out that there are many other issues that will be difficult to grapple with: "The United States will strongly support respect for the rule of law, better law enforcement, and stronger judicial institutions. Security must be advanced through our commitment to partner with those who are courageously battling drug cartels, gangs and other criminal networks throughout the Americas. And our efforts start at home. By reducing demand for drugs and curtailing the illegal flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our border, we can advance security in the United States and beyond."
Indeed, even at his welcoming ceremony was joined by President Calderon when he immediately pledged to work together in new ways to crack down on the drug cartels tied to so much tragedy on both sides of the border: "At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the borders, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue, both through initiatives like the Merida Initiative, but also on our side of the border, in dealing with the flow of guns and cash south."
The two countries also announced the "US-Mexico Bilateral Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change," which will focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation, market mechanisms, forestry and land use, green jobs, low carbon energy technology development and capacity building. Specific areas of joint cooperation under the Bilateral Framework may include:
· Collaborating on training/workshops and information exchanges for government officials to explore possible cooperation on greenhouse gas inventories, various greenhouse gas reduction strategies, and market mechanisms;
· Through our collaboration in the Border 2012 program, working with our respective border states to provide opportunities for information exchange and joint work on renewable energy, such as wind and solar, that could include technical and economic project feasibility studies, project development, and capacity building in the border region. Other border work could include a bilateral border crossing planning group to develop strategies to reduce emissions from idling vehicles, among other initiatives that may be deemed appropriate;
· Expanding our extensive bilateral collaboration on clean energy technologies to facilitate renewable power generation including by addressing transmission and distribution obstacles between our countries; fostering Energy Service Company market development; and highlighting existing and proposed areas for cooperation on clean energy and energy efficiency under the North American Energy Working Group;
· Promoting academic and scientific exchanges on renewable energy;
· Pursuing projects on adapting to climate change, including coastal or disaster risk reduction activities as well as adaptation in key sectors; and
· Working jointly with other countries to take advantage of growing Mexican expertise on greenhouse gas inventories, adaptation and project planning. This work could also possibly include a shared US/Mexican initiative to help developing countries in the Americas create low carbon development strategies plans for adaptation to climate change, and monitoring and accounting for the results.
The Summit of the Americas will get underway tomorrow (don’t forget to check out Secretary Clinton’s digital town hall right beforehand at 11:15 AM Eastern) – but today was a good start to the trip.