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Friction evident as Mexican president visits US
He objected to cables that talked about a lack of coordination among Mexican agencies. "I do not have to tell the U.S. ambassador how many times I meet with my security Cabinet, it is none of his business. I will not accept or tolerate any type of intervention," he said.
"But that man's ignorance translates into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico, and affects things and creates ill-feeling within our own team," Calderon said.
Calderon's office refused to say whether the "ignorance" remark referred specifically to U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual. The office said Pascual has met regularly with Calderon, despite local press reports suggesting Calderon was avoiding him.
Julian Ventura, Mexico's assistant secretary of foreign relations, denied reports of disenchantment and said the government had "a direct, intense relationship" with Pascual.
But the ambassador may have stepped on some toes in Mexico.
Calderon complained that "the ambassadors or whoever wrote these cables are pushing their own agendas." Riva Palacio noted there was a "self-congratulatory tone" in cables like the one sent after Mexican marines killed drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva in a Dec. 2009 shootout.
"The impression they left was of a big celebration what 'we' (the United States) did," Riva Palacio said, despite the fact that Mexico has born the human and economic toll of the drug war.
Pascual may have also ruffled feathers in the government and the ruling National Action Party by dating the daughter of Francisco Rojas, the congressional leader of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Rojas' office and the U.S. embassy declined to comment on the issue.
"It can't help since she's the child of a PRI leader and Calderon is anti-PRI to the core of his being," said Starr. "Calderon will do whatever he can to defeat the PRI. He's convinced the worst thing that could happen to Mexico would be a return to the PRI."
In practice, the day-to-day contacts across the border between regulatory and law enforcement agencies, private companies and investors are immeasurably better than in the 1980s, when the U.S. suspected top Mexican officials of complicity in drug trafficking, money laundering or attacks on U.S. agents.
Things got so bad that in 1990 the DEA paid operatives in Mexico to kidnap and bring north a suspect in the 1985 torture-murder of DEA Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena.
But things changed. Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the PRI lost its 71-year grip on the presidency in 2000, Mexico began extraditing record numbers of suspects and Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in 2006.
The country has also opened to investment, inspection and regulation to such a degree that some U.S. agencies now operate what are essentially satellite offices here.
But while the United States wonders if Mexico can control violence and bring criminals to justice, Mexico has just been left wondering whether that opening is reciprocal.
Mexico continues to wait for the opening of U.S. highways to Mexican trucks, something it is entitled to under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. Congress has simply blocked that program under pressure from industry groups with arguments about highway safety.
And Mexicans have been angered at tough measures to crack down on illegal immigration in several U.S. states. They are especially alarmed about proposals that aim to deny citizenship to children of undocumented migrants born in the United States.
Two days before Calderon's visit, Mexico's Senate urged him to "express emphatically and categorically" Mexico's opposition to such measures in his meeting with Obama.
Associated Press writers Marjorie Miller and Alexandra Olson contributed to this report.