Memo From Mexico | Mexico and the Rio Treaty - Why Withdraw Now?

On September 6th, 2002, the government of Mexico withdrew from the Rio Treaty—the Inter-American treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.

The Rio Treaty binds the signatory nations of the Western Hemisphere to protect the Americas from outside attack.

The heart of the Treaty is Article 3, which states that "an armed attack by any State against an American [Western Hemisphere] state shall be considered as an attack against all the American States, and, consequently, each one of the said Contracting Parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense..." (Rio Treaty, Article 3).

A year ago, speaking to the Organization of American States (the treaty's repositary organization) Mexican President Vicente Fox called the Rio Treaty "useless" and "obsolete." The U.S. State Department, however, wants to convince Mexico not to pull out of the treaty.

What will come out of all this? Probably not much, in and of itself. The real question is, what diplomatic signal is the Mexican government trying to send?

After all, Fox has a point. In a way, the Rio Treaty is "useless." It was a rather ineffective protection against Fidel Castro. The Treaty has been invoked on other occasions, but who can doubt that the U.S. can act unilaterally in the Western Hemisphere if need be, to protect its own interests, with or without a Rio Treaty?

Basically, the Rio Treaty can provide a legal justification for U.S. intervention in Latin America. But now that the Cold War is over, why should the U.S. intervene in Latin America anyway? Such interventions are likely to be counter-productive, and should only be reserved for a really good reason, like saving the Panama Canal or something like that.

The bottom line is, if the U.S. has to intervene, it can do so with or without the Rio Treaty.

Mexico realizes this also. That's the real reason it has a comparatively small (for its population) military. Mexican strategic planners realized long ago that they couldn't defeat the U.S. militarily, and if Mexico were invaded by a third country the U.S. would defend Mexico to protect its own interests.

The real question is, what signal is Fox trying to send to the United States by withdrawing from the Rio Treaty, and why specifically is he withdrawing now?

One possibility is that Fox is withdrawing now in case of a U.S. war against Iraq. It could be a signal, in other words, to the U.S. to not ask for symbolic support in case of a war against Iraq.

Another possibility is that the withdrawal is a signal to the U.S. government that Mexico's support is negotiable. Fox's foreign policy goal is a migratory accord with the United States. Such an accord would legalize illegal aliens, increase Mexican emigration to the U.S., and give Mexico more control over U.S. immigration policy. Such an accord has thus far failed to come to fruition. But Fox refuses to give up and plans to begin a new push for it after the November U.S. elections.

Although the practical, strategic effects of Mexico's Rio Treaty withdrawal are practically nil, the Mexican government may be hoping to use it as a bargaining chip with the U.S.

From the American point of view it would be best to just not worry about Mexico's withdrawal from the Rio Treaty. Maybe the Treaty is, as Fox calls it, "useless" and "obsolete." If such is the case, it's not worth turning U.S. immigration policy over to the Mexican government in order to keep Mexico in a "useless" and "obsolete" treaty.

Besides, the principal invasion in the Western Hemisphere is the ongoing invasion of the United States by Mexico. And there's not much the Rio Treaty can do to put a stop to that!  

American citizen Allan Wall has lived in Mexico since 1991,and is permitted to live and work there thanks to a legal work permit issued by the Mexican government. VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here.  Readers can contact Allan Wall at allan39@prodigy.net.mx

October 04, 2002