Friday, May 24, 2024

North American Summit Focuses on Swine Flu


Obama arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday for his first North American summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The meeting’s main accomplishment will likely be a joint plan of attack for the swine flu.

Any breakthroughs in the more complex debates over issues such as Mexican trucks, U.S. “Buy American” rules or how deal with the drug flow across the border have proven to be more difficult.

When Obama visited Mexico City in April the swine flu epidemic was a fragment of what it has become. Now, it is global in its reach and has sickened more than 43,000 people in the United States and is the cause of nearly 300 deaths. The numbers in Mexico are at least 15,000 cases and 141 deaths; in Canada it’s 10,000 cases and 50 deaths.

While the swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, has calmed down for the summer, it is expected to flare up again in the fall. Public health officials are preparing medicine and public education campaigns, hoping to curb the flu without disrupting trade and tourism.

“We’re going to do everything possible to minimize the impact,” said John Brennan, Obama’s top White House adviser on homeland security. “There is going to be a joint statement on how the three countries … tackle the H1N1 challenge.”

The North American Leaders Summit was started by George W. Bush in 2005. It has become an important conversation on trade among the three counties, Canada being the top U.S. trading partner, while Mexico is No. 3.

Immigration reform was on the agenda as well. Obama has said he would like to start crafting legislation that legalizes millions of Mexican immigrants. However, the chance of Congress acting this year on immigration is slim, considering top priorities like health care and climate policy will consume most of the congressional agenda this fall.



  1. Let’s hope they can tackle this…

  2. Although I appreciate their coming together to tackle the swine flu, I feel like their time could be better spent focusing on things like immigration or the drug war. These issues are affecting more people than this silly flu that is no more harmful than the regular flu.

  3. I agree. I live in a border state and these are the issues that I am worried about, not swine flu. It isn’t that serious.