At a Denver conference on intercontinental trade corridors, a Mexican mayor called for a swift move toward a European Union-style merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Referring to Europe, Evaristo Lenin Perez of Ciudad Acuna – a sister city of Del Rio, Texas – told the Great Plains International Conference, "It's a model we need to follow quickly."
Perez later told WND, "If only people know the benefits of opening the borders and working together, improving the quality of life for all, then no one would be opposed to the idea of a North American Union."
A spokesman for organizers of the conference – which began Wednesday and concludes today – rejected the Mexican mayor's view.
"This is not what the conference is about, it is not about a North American Union," said Joe Kiely, vice president of the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition. "It is about developing infrastructure and economic opportunities in the Great Plains. I am equally surprised the other items were brought up here."
Ports-to-Plains describes itself as "a planned, multimodal transportation corridor including a multi-lane divided highway that will facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services from Mexico, through West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma, and ultimately on into Canada and the Pacific Northwest."
The conference, held at the Adams Mark Hotel, is promoted as an opportunity to "highlight the efforts of communities and citizens working together to bring the benefits of investment in transportation infrastructure and trade home to the Great Plains region."
Asked why he chose the conference to promote the idea of a North American Union, Perez told WND, "It's as good as any place and the right people are here."
"This is not a new idea," he said. "In fact when there are border meetings between border governors or border legislatures this is a topic that continually comes up."
Perez also affirmed the Ports to Plains Corridor is basically a NAFTA Superhighway and needs to be developed as such.
"We need to begin by building the infrastructure in the three countries, investing in Mexico, and then we can sell the main idea that Mexicans should stay in Mexico. We just need to create an equal level for all," Perez said.
Del Rio, Texas, Mayor Efrain Valdes told conferees he came to build relationships he hopes will last for decades to come.
"We are all North Americans," he said. "Three countries, but we are all North Americans."
Michael Reeves, president of Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition, kicked off the conference with brief remarks.
Eduardo Arnal, consulate general of Mexico in Denver, later provided numerous statistics documenting the strong economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S.
"Because of NAFTA, we are partners in the fight against terror and need to help ensure each other's safety," Arnal said.
Arnal later discussed with WND the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and the issue of illegal immigration.
"The best and only way to stop illegal immigration is for the United States to invest in Mexico," he said. "A fence will not work. It's a simple equation of supply and demand – Mexicans go to the U.S. for work because the demand for their labor and wages is there."
Arnal said although Mexico must share responsibility for the immigration issue, it is the U.S. that really needs to step up and begin investing more in Mexico to help bring the country to a level playing field.
The Canadian perspective was delivered by Phillippe Taillon, vice consul and trade commissioner of the Canadian Consulate in Denver. Like his Mexican counterpart, Taillon presented statistics on the relationship between the three countries and told the crowd "NAFTA has been hugely profitable for all three countries."
He also expressed an interest in continuing to integrate rail, truck and air transportation networks as Canada looks to open new markets from Asia.