Mexican President Felipe Calderón arrives in Washington DC today for an official visit with President Obama and U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner. Calderón’s visit begins with a meeting with leaders of the business community and media on Wednesday, followed by meetings tomorrow with President Obama at the White House and a meeting with Speaker Boehner later in the day. On his agenda, Calderón is expected to discuss key issues including trade relations, immigration concerns, continued support for the Merída Initiative, and security.
Mexican legislators have pressed Calderón to specifically address the issue of arms trafficking as a chief concern for Mexico following the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jamie Zapata on a northern Mexico highway. Although Calderón's visit was planned some time ago, the recent death of agent Zapata has highlighted the security concerns and violence spreading from the border region to other parts of Mexico. Investigation into the death of agent Zapata found that the gun used in his murder was obtained in the U.S. and illegally smuggled into Mexico. Jesús Ortega, president of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), affirmed that Calderón must address the need for the Obama administration to do more to stem the flow of illegal arms into Mexico in comments made to Mexico’s El Universal. Other issues causing friction are the anti-immigrant laws passing through several U.S. states, money laundering, and allegations made in recently leaked cables.
At stake during this visit is also continued funding of the Merida Initiative anti-drug aid plan. Calderón is expected to express Mexico’s need for continued support of the initiative to Speaker Boehner, even as the U.S. Congress attempts to cut back on spending.
Calderón’s two-day trip will conclude with a forum discussion on Thursday afternoon hosted by the Americas Society and Council of the Americas and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he will discuss the current political and economic situation in Mexico.