Thursday, August 22, 2019

Is Trump's Venezuela Policy Inconsistent?

Cynthia Arnson of the Wilson Center has a post about the Trump administration's policy toward Venezuela, which she calls a "contradiction" and an "inconsistency." She details all the humanitarian problems U.S. policy exacerbates in the region and concludes:

For now, all the chest-thumping in the world cannot obscure the central inconsistency of Trump administration policy:  a gamble that inflicting maximum economic pain on the Maduro regime will make it cry ‘uncle,’ while leaving others to handle the human costs.
My immediate thought as I was reading was, as the saying goes, the cruelty is the point. Trump does not care about the humanitarian disaster and has no sympathy for what neighboring countries face. He has no reason to. He believes U.S. standing in the region is based on brute force, and that hard power protects our national interests. Why else punish Central America when doing so prompts more emigration?

Put another way, Trump likely sees the humanitarian disaster as part and parcel of forcing the Maduro regime to cry uncle. When refugees flood into other countries, that may well serve the purpose of making them push harder for regime change. Further, he does not want to grant TPS to Venezuelans because his xenophobic base won't like it. That base is more important than the hardline one in Florida, which in any case knows the Democratic candidates are likely to support easing off this policy.

In sum, if you were president and a) wanted regime change; and b) were not bothered by human suffering, this might seem to be a perfectly logical and internally consistent policy.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

U.S. Response to China in Latin America

Carlos Roa at The National Interest takes a look at China's relations with Latin America and what the U.S. can do. FYI, ignore the annoying headline--it's not about "losing" Latin America (just Google "losing Latin America" to see what a click-baity cliché this is).

He makes one point that is especially worth emphasizing:

Washington’s political establishment will have to confront its own ideological assumptions—particularly those that inform its approach towards geo-economics. Doing so will require overcoming a long-held aversion to state-led economic initiatives and the notion that the free market holds unquestionable authority over matters of economics and finance. 
This hits the nail on the head. U.S. economic policy has been driven by expanding the private sector as much as possible in Latin America, which often cuts against what Latin American leaders want. Plus, the U.S. long ago lost credibility in this area given the state-led response to the 2008 economic crisis, which stood in sharp contrast to prior U.S. insistence that Latin America allow markets to readjustment themselves while millions suffered.

Roa goes into the ways in which China has increased Latin American indebtedness to its own advantage, pushed to increase Latin American dependence on Chinese suppliers, and increased its export of manufactured goods. What's worth pointing out here is that this is exactly what the U.S. has done in the past. We're mad now because the Chinese are using our own model, which for years tightened dependent ties. Now, as they loosen and Latin America becomes more autonomous, it's a source of frustration and a sense of "losing." It's now not just about being friendly again. It's completely rethinking how the U.S. relates to the region, which needs to be much more on its terms.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

National Views on Immigration

The Pew Research Center has some data on public views of immigration. What it shows is widespread agreement on a lot of issues currently portrayed in the media as divisive.
When it comes to undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally, a majority of Americans continue to support a way for them to stay in the country legally. 
Overall, 72% say there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met; far fewer (27%) say there should not be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. The share who supports a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants has edged lower since March 2017 (from 77%), driven by a shift in Republican views.
The consensus has been eroding in the Republican Party, but these numbers are high. It frustrates me, then, to read the Washington Post--among others--labeling immigrant amnesty as a "far left" idea. It is an entirely mainstream argument.

And all this talk about immigrants being criminals? It is held by those much further right.
Most Americans say people who are in the U.S. illegally are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say this. Large majorities also say undocumented immigrants mostly fill the jobs that American citizens don’t want (77%) and are as honest and hardworking as American citizens (73%).
The point here is that we agree a lot more on some core immigration issues than the media or the president would have you believe.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Thoughts on the Venezuela Sanctions

Here is the text of the new Venezuela sanctions. Headlines inaccurately refer to them as a "total economic embargo." They are not "total" because they focus only on specific people around Nicolás Maduro. The private sector is not targeted. For targeted people, they target "funds, goods, or services." But they do freeze all assets in the U.S.

This is obviously a severe tightening of what already exists, and it will really hurt Venezuelans, who are already leaving the country in large numbers. Note as well that this was not accompanied by any agreement on TPS. As Daniel Larison noted yesterday, this will lead to more suffering.

There is a lot of uncertainty here. For example:

--Anatoly Kurmanaev asks what happens to Venezuelans who rely on U.S. credit cards. There are many potential new avenues of economic strangulation that can lead directly to malnutrition and lack of medical care. Speaking of medicine, Trump says food and medicine are exempt, just as they are in Iran, but in Iran that is not actually the case.

--The order does not mention other countries. It is hard to imagine Russia or China backing off as a result of this, but we know John Bolton would love a confrontation (Trump, who likes Russia, seems much less likely to want to confront Putin). If they don't break off, then the regime might just keep limping along.

--With all assets in the US frozen, what happens with CITGO and its court battle? That was already a highly uncertain situation. Juan Guaidó now says CITGO is "protected."

--What will the impact be on neighboring countries already struggling to deal with the influx of Venezuelans? Just sending them a bit of money is woefully inadequate--it is a massive humanitarian crisis.

The final question is whether these sanctions will have their desired impact, which of course is forcing Maduro out. In response to Larison's post, Roger Noriega tweeted in a manner that I would see as characteristic of sanctions supporters:


The logic for the Cuba embargo is obviously identical in its pursuit of harsh unilateral sanctions, and it has not worked for almost 60 years. So it is perfectly reasonable to ask whether this is going to work either, and we know--I mean know--that many Venezuelans will suffer as part of "moving more decisively."

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Monday, August 05, 2019

TPS for Venezuelans

The Trump administration officially does not like Temporary Protected Status because it is not temporary enough. As the leader of a think tank committed to drastically curtailing immigration put it, "the 'guest' never leaves." Therefore, even while U.S. policy helps push Venezuelans to emigrate, the administration is not eager to protect them if they come here.

The problem with that position is that it runs directly against the hardline Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American constituencies that Trump courts. They applauded when Trump seemed serious about invading Venezuela or otherwise forcing regime change, but now it's clear that he was lying to them. That means there is some political pressure--often channeled through Marco Rubio--to appease them. That in turn leads to ideas about how to give Venezuelans TPS without calling it TPS.

"We're committed to ensure that no Venezuelan is sent back to a situation where they'll be persecuted by the government of Venezuela or by the dictatorship that is usurping democracy in Venezuela," a senior administration official told NPR and other news outlets Friday. 
--
 "We all understand and we're very cognizant of the risks that Venezuelans face being sent back," the official said. "In that regard, whether it's called TPS, or something else, there is a host of mechanisms that are under consideration that we're looking at."

For Syrians, the administration extended TPS without redesignating it, so no one new can apply. They could do that for Venezuelans, but it's tricky because more will definitely be coming. The same is true for Haitians and others.

Venezuela is different from other countries because there is a real political bloc behind it, and its members are largely in Florida, which Trump narrowly won in 2016. As the Democratic candidates find their way to Florida, they'll be bringing this up. Global Americans is keeping track of how the candidates talk about Latin America, and Venezuela is mostly mentioned in terms of opposing armed action. If Trump resists TPS or TPS-like solutions, I would be surprised if the candidates didn't milk it to Florida audiences.

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Friday, August 02, 2019

End of Chile's Copper Law

J.C. Arancibia has the details on the end of Chile's copper law. This is long overdue. It was a 1958 law, later reformed by (but not created by) Augusto Pinochet* to guarantee 10% of copper revenue to the Chilean armed forces.

I followed it closely while researching and writing my dissertation, followed by subsequent publications. It was a major way for the military to evade civilian control and remain very well-funded, even to the alarm of Chile's neighbors. I started my fieldwork almost 25 years ago, which gives you a sense of how difficult it remained to get enough support from the right to pass it. Presidents continually tried and failed. There was a big push in 2011-2012 that I blogged and published about, but it fizzled.

It's good that it is gone, but it should also serve as a reminder that antiquated laws still pervade the military institutions of the hemisphere and give them power and autonomy that undermines democracy.

*Ironically, Salvador Allende's nationalization of copper is precisely what allowed Pinochet the ability to increase the total amount since revenue went through CODELCO, the state copper company.

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Impeachment in Paraguay (Again!)

Latin American impeachment is a no-confidence vote these days. I wrote about it for Brazil three years ago and then talked to Leiv Marsteintredet about it on my podcast two years ago. Paraguay is the most recent example, where Mario Abdo faces calls for impeachment over a controversial energy deal with Brazil.


"We are going to prepare the corresponding documentation for the prosecution of poor performance. We have to do new elections," said Efrain Alegre, leader of Paraguay's Liberal Party, the main opposition group.
Not crimes, or even high crimes and misdemeanors. Just poor performance, which is no confidence. In Mexico, AMLO called for the same and got it passed in the Chamber of Deputies, but it has since stalled in the Senate.

As long as the parameters are clear, this is not necessarily a bad thing, though the structure of a presidential system (especially with separately elected legislature) makes it a lot trickier.

In 2012, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was ousted through impeachment in a process of "golpeachment." If the path for removal is not clearly laid out, then it becomes constitutionally problematic. BTW, Lugo himself is in the senate now, and from what I gather his party has not yet decided whether to participate in the impeachment process. The constitution (from 1992) has not changed since Lugo was removed. Article 225 is the relevant part:

El Presidente de la República, el Vicepresidente, los ministros del Poder Ejecutivo, los ministros de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, el Fiscal General del Estado, el Defensor del Pueblo, el Contralor General de la República, el Subcontralor y los integrantes del Tribunal Superior de Justicia Electoral, sólo podrán ser sometidos a juicio político por mal desempeño de sus funciones, por delitos cometidos en el ejercicio de sus cargos o por delitos comunes.

"Mal desempeño de sus funciones" is "poor performance of their duties." The issue is whether such a phrase applies to a single policy you disagree with. Its vagueness is what made Lugo's removal so shady.

In other words, do Paraguayans now view impeachment as no-confidence, as a common mechanism for unpopular leaders rather than an uncommon and solemn occasion? Perhaps Lugo's own experience means the answer might be yes.

Abdo says he is ready.




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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review of The MVP Machine

Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik's The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players is an excellent, if slightly too long, baseball book. They argue that lots of people have noted the shift toward more granular ways of evaluating players, but few have looked into how data is used to development them, to actually change and shape them.

With the ever-annoying but driven Trevor Bauer as a major case study, they dive into the world of high speed cameras, pitching grips, throwing regimens, launch angles, arm slots, swing planes, and the like, all of which challenge conventional wisdom. As Bauer reasonably notes, he doesn't want any advice that is not based on data (unfortunately, he is a jerk to people who give him advice he believes it bad and in general seems unable to be nice to anyone).

In abundant detail, they make a convincing case for why players who use data improve, while those that don't will be at a disadvantage. Often, the people who can help interpret data aren't former players at all, which is transforming both dugouts and front offices. Scouts are becoming a thing of the past--the human eye just doesn't have the ability that technology does. People who can use and interpret data effectively also get MLB jobs--the website Fangraphs seems to always need writers because their best are continuously snapped up.

In the conclusion, they make two particularly important points. First, baseball is unlike other sports where data-driven improvements make the game more exciting (e.g. longer gold drives or three-point shots). Data decreases the action in a baseball game--fewer ground balls, less base running, more strikeouts. Second, getting data takes money, so kids with poor parents cannot benefit from it and therefore will likely fall behind. This is troubling in our era of year-long sports and club teams. Data has created real problems.

In a book full of examples of how players used data to improve, there is one glaring problem. All of those examples are success stories. In other words, the cases are selected on the dependent variable, thus proving it by definition. They note in passing players that only briefly benefited, but to flesh out this story they need a more detailed discussion of someone who did not benefit. My hunch is that it would bolster their case.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Michelle Bachelet Blasts Maduro

I had been meaning to write a post on Michelle Bachelet's scathing report on human rights in Venezuela after her visit leading a UN team, but hadn't gotten to it. I did a Twitter thread with quotes from the report (which you can read here). You can also take a look at Andrés Cañizález's article in Global Americans.

Taken along with Bachelet's own comments, the UN is saying that the Venezuelan government is both inept and intensely brutal toward its own citizens, and that Nicolás Maduro is incapable of fixing any of it. It is so condemnatory that Cañizález notes the following:

Venezuelan activists such as Uzcátegui and Luis Francisco Cabezas, general director of the civil society organization CONVITE, believe that the document itself is written in a language that should serve as input for the International Criminal Court (ICC), since the report reiterates the systematic nature of the violations of human rights with cases of torture, forced disappearances and the right to life. The report also includes that individual criminal responsibilities should be acknowledged. 
The fact that Bachelet is the driving force of this report negates any effort to frame it as ideologically driven. As presidential candidate, after all, she brought the Communist Party into her coalition and was routinely called a Communist by the right. The Chilean Communist Party actually criticized the report, but they don't even try to criticize her. There is no way Bachelet suddenly became a tool of the right, a pawn of the Empire, or anything like that. She is firmly on the left and has enormous credibility. There is no wiggle room.

The government says the report is untrue and that it will publish a response. It will be hard, however, to use the "economic war" argument to explain the "dismantlement of democratic institutions" or "electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, water boarding, beatings, sexual violence, water and food deprivation, stress positions and exposure to extreme temperatures." Coming from Bachelet, this packs a serious punch.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dealing With Bad Debt

The question of how to deal with bad debt has long been a problem in Latin America. Some government or series of governments incurs debt to keep spending high, which at some point becomes unsustainable and there is political transition. The loans keep coming despite the obvious disaster because creditors assume the government will be forced to pay eventually, even if at a discount. (Though Néstor Kirchner famously gave creditors the middle finger).

As Patrice Franko writes in her excellent The Puzzle of Latin American Economic Development:

The history of Latin America contains numerous stories of a state firm's payrolls padded with dead people, construction taking place only on paper, and misguided attempts such as the Transamazonian Highway (p. 81).

It's a terrible dilemma. In most countries, with Venezuela the most current example, the debt was irresponsible and corrupt. Whatever new government comes to power feels no sympathy for the vultures who invested, but faces intense international pressure to satisfy them.

This is what Juan Guaidó is facing now. From Reuters:
Creditors holding Venezuelan debt on Tuesday pushed back on debt restructuring plans backed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, urging a "fair and effective" framework for talks and improved communications with investors holding defaulted bonds.
There is also this nugget:
The committee also took exception to the idea that debts to Russia and China would be treated differently than others.
This is where the particulars of the Venezuelan case show how it's different from, say, the 1980s debt crisis. China and Russia are propping up the Maduro government, so coaxing them away demands preferential treatment, however distasteful that might be. If they are not 100% convinced their demands will be met, they have no incentive to stop propping.

In short, all this talk is really about the political transition itself. Not only is Guaidó asserting himself as executive, he is also sending signals about upholding certain obligations. Vladimir Putin likes the status quo just because it creates trouble for the U.S., but even he wants his money.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Conditions of Imprisoned Immigrants

From a report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General. These are just direct quotes about the Rio Grande Valley area.

Specifically, we encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.  
 ...
During the week of June 10, 2019, we traveled to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and again observed serious overcrowding and prolonged detention in Border Patrol
facilities requiring immediate attention. For example, children at three of the five Border Patrol facilities we visited had no access to showers, despite the TEDS standards requiring that “reasonable efforts” be made to provide showers to children approaching 48 hours in detention. 
... 
While all facilities had infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, and juice and snacksfor children, we observed that two facilities had not provided children access to hot meals — as is required by the TEDS standards? — until the week we arrived. Instead, the children were fed sandwiches and snacksfor their meals. 
... 
Specifically, when detainees observed us, they banged on the cell windows, shouted, pressed notes to the window with their time in custody, and gestured to evidence of their time in custody (e.g., beards) For example, although TEDS standards require CBP to make a reasonable effort to provide a shower for adults after 72 hours, most single adults had not had a shower in CBP custody despite several being held for as long as a month.

There are pictures too. The tone of the report suggests it was written by people who were horrified at what their seeing and hearing. We just more of such people on the inside to speak up. This is not how human beings should treat each other.


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Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Alva Noé's Infinite Baseball

Alva Noe's Infinite Baseball: Notes From a Philosopher at the Ballpark sounds so intriguing. What you get, though, is a hodgepodge of previously published pieces with a tacked on introduction. By the time I got through the introduction, I was already getting disappointed. One theme he comes back to is that baseball is a game of responsibility--we're always trying to assign credit or blame for what happens. Such credit or blame ultimately takes the form of numbers, but baseball is in his eyes not a numbers game. It is this last argument that he has the most difficulty explaining and defending. In the intro, I kept stopping and thinking, "This isn't accurate." Some of the assertions in the intro:

--Baseball is an infinite game. Finite games, like chess, "can be simulated with computers" (6). This would come as some surprise to the many enthusiasts of Out of the Park Baseball, a hugely popular baseball simulation.

--Baseball is considered slow because "only explosive hits and big plays count as action" (22). No, baseball is considered slow because the length of time it takes to do the same things has risen quite a lot over time, 40 or so minutes on average during my lifetime.

--he argues that data should not be used to think about medical issues, such as breastfeeding, and so should also not be used to judge baseball. My own opinion is that this is terrible advice. He caps it off with the factually incorrect statement that with a pitcher, "the manager's decision to leave him in, or call on a relief pitcher, is not one that can be decided with the numbers" (25). Yes, human judgment is in there, but those decisions are fundamentally based on numbers.

--Baseball is different because kids model the stances of their favorite hitters (he puts pose in italics (27). Youth games are "rituals." How is this different from other sports? You know kids try to shoot like Steph Curry or do touchdown dances like their favorite receiver.

The intro lays out no framework, philosophical or otherwise, so my advice is to read the chapters, or better yet find the chapters in their original form online. He has some interesting insights into why steroids shouldn't be considered a problem for the Hall of Fame  Well, actually, that's the main interesting thing. He asks whether any variety of medical assistance (even Tommy John surgery) should be considered unfair advantage. Fair questions, and worth asking. That would actually be a better basis for a philosophical discussion.

But for me, this book boiled down to a lot of unhappiness about sabermetrics. He mentions and criticizes Keith Law's book Smart Baseball but really just reinforces Law's main argument. I agree that Law's own take is too intentionally insulting, but his arguments are solid. Numbers don't tell us everything, but they are being used in creative and productive ways to understand current and future performance. Noé says you cannot use numbers to determine value, period (67). He ends with his own shot that underlines his lack of sabermetric understanding: "Want to know what happened on the field? You'd better take a look, and give it some thought" (67). Guess what: Law and everyone else who judges baseball players go to endless minor league games to scout, while using the numbers. If you ignore the data, you will lose.

My advice to Noé is to accept the fact that numbers are more important than he wants to believe, but that they do not mess with the beauty of baseball. And a 2.5 hour game is no less enjoyable and fulfilling than a 3.5 hour one. As someone who lives on the east coast and follows a west cost team, infinite baseball with games that start at 10:10 pm are awful.

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Monday, July 01, 2019

Why Did Fidel Castro Endorse Salvador Allende?

Rafael Pedemonte, "The Meeting of Revolutionary Roads: Chilean-Cuban Interactions, 1959–1970," Hispanic American Historical Review (2019) 99 (2): 275-302.

Abstract:

Fidel Castro's endorsement of Salvador Allende's revolutionary program in August 1970 was determined by global transformations and changing priorities within both Chile and Cuba. Since 1968, favorable prospects for the Left encouraged Havana to abandon its radicalism premised on the inevitability of armed struggle. Prior to 1970 Chile gradually promoted rapprochement with the socialist world and lessened Cuba's hemispheric isolation, imposed by the Organization of American States. It is within this framework that the meeting between Cuba's and Chile's revolutions has to be understood. Allende, knowing that Castro's support would push the radical Left to side with Popular Unity in the 1970 elections, sent a delegation to convince the Cubans that socialism could be achieved by peaceful means. These events and strategic discussions within Chile and Cuba reveal how the history of the Left needs to be placed in a broad context defined by the complex unfolding of domestic, hemispheric, and international transformations shaping Latin America in the 1960s.
It's a look at the local and global contexts that framed the Cuban decision to embrace Salvador Allende's peace road to socialism, which previously Fidel Castro said was impossible ("electoral opium" and all that). For example:

--The USSR was threatening Cuba if it didn't stop promoting revolution in Latin America, so this was a way to smooth things over.
--Fidel Castro was isolated in the region and wanted to expand trade and other ties. Allende's decision to restore diplomatic relations was a critical starting point.
--The Chilean Social Democrats started that process earlier, so Chile was a propitious place for Fidel to acknowledge political change that did not overthrow the existing order.
--Salvador Allende need the endorsement to get the radical left to vote for him.

Fidel and Allende needed each other:

The encounter between the Cuban Revolution and the Chilean road to socialism in 1970 was not just a response to the contemporary conjuncture but also the fruit of a long-term evolution rooted in previous developments and molded by a complex set of factors.

This is also a reminder that even radical movements can exhibit strong pragmatic impulses. I've made the case for some time that even leftist Latin American governments are more pragmatic than typically portrayed.

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Russian Threats in Latin America

A lengthy white paper written for the Joint Chiefs of Staff  (text shared by Politico here) addresses the failure of the U.S. to counter Russian foreign policy globally. The Latin America part was written by Evan Ellis, who has written a lot on China and who typically I find on the hawkish side (though not alarmist). However, I agree largely with his take on Russia, which is that its influence is restricted and unlikely to grow much. It doesn't hand out cash like China, and outside a few countries there is little interest in engagement. The thrust of the assessment is that China has a far greater presence in Latin America than Russia does. Further, Russia is concentrated in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Its reach is therefore quite limited, though it gets a bit of a propaganda boost from outlets like RT.

In contrast to China, which uses access to its markets and the possibility of loans and investment as tools of soft power, Russian ability to exert influence through economic resources, either by providing aid or denying commercial transactions, is minimal. Even among its friends, Russia’s ability to exert influence in the region is limited.
Like so many much-touted threats extra-hemispheric threats, we should keep an eye on Russia's activities but they are threatening U.S. security.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rex Tillerson Cut Out of Mexico Diplomacy and Publicly Humiliated

We already knew that Rex Tillerson was cut out of U.S. diplomacy with Mexico and that Jared Kushner was the conduit. But his description of it in congressional testimony last month shows how humiliating it must have been.

Q Did you ever find yourself in one of those situations where Mr. Kushner had
had a meeting or had a conversation that you weren't aware of and it caught you off
guard? 
A Yes. 
Q Could you be specific about that? 
A Well, I'll give you just one example and then maybe we can -- 
Q Yes, sir. 
A -- leave it at the one example. But Mexico was a situation that that occurred
on a number of occasions. And I mention this one because I think it was -- some of the
elements of it were reported publicly that the Foreign Secretary of Mexico was engaged
with Mr. Kushner on a fairly -- unbeknownst to me -- a fairly comprehensive plan of
action. 
And the Foreign Secretary came to town -- unbeknownst to me -- and I happened
to be having a business dinner at a restaurant in town. And the owner of the restaurant,
proprietor of the restaurant came around and said: Oh, Mr. Secretary, you might be
interested to know the Foreign Secretary of Mexico is seated at a table near the back and
in case you want to go by and say hello to him. Very innocent on his part.
And so I did. I walked back. And Mr. Kushner, and I don't remember who else was
at the table, and the Foreign Secretary were at the table having dinner. And I could see
the color go out of the face of the Foreign Secretary of Mexico
as I very -- I smiled big, and I said: Welcome to Washington. And I said: I don’t want to interrupt what y’all are doing. I said: Give me a call next time you're coming to town. And I left it at that. 
As it turned out later, the Foreign Secretary was operating on the assumption that
everything he was talking to Mr. Kushner about had been run through the State
Department and that I was fully on board with it. And he was rather shocked to find out
that when he started telling me all these things that were news to me, I told him this is
the first time I'm hearing of it. And I don’t know that any of those things were discussing
ultimately happened because there was a change of government in Mexico as well. 
Embarrassed in front of the Mexican Foreign Minister and in public to boot. His comment of "just one example" means he could've rattled off plenty more.

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