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North American Leaders' Summit, Guadalajara, Mexico 
Eagle Forum Correspondent Cathie Adams reporting from Guadalajara, Mexico.
 Further Reading: NAU / Mexican Trucks
REPORTS 2009: Aug. 8Aug. 10Aug. 18
August 18, 2009
Transparency Lacking at North American Leaders' Summit

Retracing former President Lincoln's route from Philadelphia to Washington was President-elect Barack Obama's celebration as America's first black president, but his first months in office have negated any resemblance to Honest Abe's reputation.

Obama is a superb salesman, but Americans are awakening to the bad medicine in his proposed socialized medical system. Americans also know that his "cap and trade" legislation would increase taxes on the middle class, even though he promised them otherwise. His walk does not match his talk, even concerning foreign policies.

In February 2008, candidate Obama told The Dallas Morning News that, "Starting my first year in office, I will convene annual meetings with Mr. Calderon and the prime minister of Canada. Unlike similar summits under President Bush, these will be conducted with a level of transparency that represents the close ties among our three countries. We will seek the active and open involvement of citizens, labor, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress."

At Phyllis Schlafly's urging, I attended President Obama's first meeting called the "North American Leaders' Summit" in Guadalajara, Mexico, August 9-10. I participated in a press conference with a "Coalition to Block the North American Union," but found Obama's meeting just as non-transparent as his predecessor's.

Prior to my departure, I contacted the White House representative in Guadalajara to obtain media accreditation, but was told that the deadline had already passed. Upon my arrival in Guadalajara, I tried again to gain accreditation with my letter of assignment and accredited press pass, but was told that only the White House could issue accreditation. Undeterred, I walked the full perimeter of the conference venue stopping to show my credentials and to ask security personnel where the media entered the complex, but to no avail.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made no pretense of transparency as she spoke to the press weeks prior to the Leaders' Summit. She curtly told the media: "Thank you. Well, we're going to now go immediately into our working groups, and I appreciate so much the concerns that bring us together. And in preparation for the leaders' summit, we want to have a very specific agenda filled with the concrete actions that we intend to take together. So, thank you."

Why the secrecy? Could it be that they are trying to hide from the American people the North American Region's agenda, which is to harmonize the three nations' economies, increase labor mobility across borders and to force American taxpayers to pay for Mexico's drug war? Let us consider the evidence.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership (http://www.spp.gov/) created by former President Bush and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in March 2005 is alive and well, but because of public concern for national sovereignty, its annual meeting name was changed to the "North American Leaders' Summit" or simply a meeting of the "Three Amigos." Regardless the name change, there is ample evidence that the heads of state continued the incremental erosion of national sovereignty.

The U.S. Constitution directs the elected Congress, not a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tribunal, to make international trade decisions. Yet in a 2001 ruling, a tribunal granted Mexican trucks free access to American roads. That ruling contradicts NAFTA's own rule that the U.S. has a right to "set the level of protection that they consider appropriate in pursuit of legitimate regulatory objectives" including the "safety of trucking services."

NAFTA tribunals are bad, but dealing with the Mexican government is even worse. After an amendment to limit Mexican trucks to 20 miles north of the border was added to a Congressional bill and begrudgingly signed by President Obama in early 2009, Mexico responded by imposing tariffs on 90 U.S. products. The tariffs are worth $2.4 billion, which exceeds by 200% the price differential between the domestic and imported goods affected. That amounts to extortion!

Evidence also shows that unprincipled Americans are investing in Mexican trucking companies in order to turn a bigger profit, even while sacrificing American middle class jobs. According to the Transport Index on Wall Street, profits have grown from 4-5% annually to 18% and more. Not only are Mexican drivers paid only one-third what American truckers are paid, the Mexican truckers do not require Workers Comp, unemployment insurance, Social Security or health benefits.

NAFTA supporters lob the "protectionist" label at Americans who sound the alarm about jobs, safety and fairness, but in reality they simply want to protect their families from unsafe Mexican trucks and untrained Mexican drivers. Nor can the Teamsters Union be blamed for sounding the alarm, since the vast majority of American truck drivers are not union members.

A Mexican truck drivers' license is merely a chauffeur's license that costs about $50. American truck drivers, on the other hand, must pass both written and driving tests that take into account the truck's weight and whether the cargo would be humans or hazardous materials. Driving a school bus is hugely different from driving a fuel tanker, but Mexican authorities couldn't care less.

The unsafe Mexican trucks are riddled with so many violations that they cannot even participate in random border safety checks with their American and Canadian counterparts. And because they are paid only a third of what American drivers are paid, they are more susceptible to bribery, to human trafficking or to hauling illegal drugs.

In a joint press statement following the annual summit, the leaders revealed a part of their private discussions:

  • They plan to work as a North American Region at the December U.N. meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to adopt a new cap and trade regime for greenhouse gas emissions. (I plan to attend that meeting too.)
  • The three leaders discussed migration and labor mobility, which is a call for amnesty for Mexicans in both America and Canada.
  • President Obama agreed to continue footing the bill for the Mexican drug war with U.S. aid under the 2007 Merida Initiative, a three-year, $1.4 billion counternarcotics package started by former President George W. Bush.

My sincere hope is that the American people will demand transparency concerning these critical issues. Elected officials who refuse to listen should be replaced in 2010.

Our Founders told us that our republic would require eternal vigilance because they knew that if we strayed from their principles, a meeting such as the North American Leaders' Summit would attempt to supplant those principles. Let us be eternally vigilant!

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