Tuesday, March 4, 2008

US election crosses the border

By Ioan Grillo

As the US state of Texas and Ohio prepare to vote in the latest round of presidential primaries, Al Jazeera examines how the candidates' campaigns are having an effect across the border in Mexico.

The US presidential primary battle for Texas and Ohio has not only sent shockwaves across the US, but also over the Rio Grande and into Mexico.

In the run up to the US contests, both Democrat contenders have threatened to pull the US out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which has seen a surge in imports of everything from cars to avocadoes over the 3,000 km Mexico-US border.

Mexican and US commerce ministers responded with a vigorous defence of Nafta, claiming in a meeting in the resort of Los Cabos on Thursday that free trade has brought huge economic growth.

And both Democrat and Republican candidates have also continued to trade blows over illegal immigration in the vast "lone star" state of Texas, which borders four Mexican states and has a swelling Hispanic population.

Mexican politicians have also warned US candidates not to use migrants as a punch-bag to gain votes.

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