** APRIL 16 UPDATE: See fresh post, "The distant neighbor: Barack Obama in Mexico."
With the amounts of goods, money, migrants, media, tourists, and the endless intangibles of culture that flow between Mexico and the United States on a daily basis, there is hands-down no country more important to the future prosperity of the U.S. than its southern neighbor, and vice versa. Yet we've rarely heard Mexico mentioned on the 2008 presidential campaign trail. And particularly not from front-runner Barack Obama, who has not visited Mexico -- unlike rival John McCain, who was in Mexico City as recently as July -- but did find time this summer to go to Europe for whatever reasons.
Journalist Franc Contreras goes to the border for Al Jazeera and finds many more questions than reassurances among people on both sides of the border on how an Obama presidency might seek to mend the damage done to U.S.-Mexico relations under eight years of Republican rule in Washington. From immigration reform to trade and narcoterrorism, people excited about an Obama victory on Nov. 4 must keep in mind that border-related issues facing the next president will be every bit as challenging as anything the executive might face in the Middle East or in Asia.
What's Obama's view on the death of the binational border park, for symbolic starters? Or America's domestic Guantanamos? Who knows. But here is a boilerplate op-ed piece Obama published in February in The Dallas Morning News that lays out a general Mexico agenda, and a bit of analysis from Foreign Policy Association.