Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Odd Saga of U.S.-Mexico Relations

During his campaign, Donald Trump kept saying Mexico would pay for his wall. Enrique Peña Nieto said he would not pay for it--he repeated that after their odd visit last August. Former President Vicente Fox also did so in more colorful language. This was all last year.

Fast forward to January 2017 and we have Trump inviting EPN to meet, then today tweeting that maybe they should call off the meeting because EPN said in a televised statement that he would not pay for the wall. In other words, exactly nothing had changed in the past year, but Trump suddenly said the meeting was pointless if EPN wasn't going to agree to pay. (And incidentally, if you haven't seen Vicente Fox's latest tweet, it has a memorable hashtag.

That makes no sense to the normal person. One has to assume that Trump is employing some sort of negotiating tactic. I don't know what it might be. Doing deals in business is not like working with countries, and it certainly bears no resemblance to working the complicated U.S.-Mexico relationship, which affects many Americans and major cities on the border. It actually works out well for EPN, who can now claim he stood up for Mexico and did not have to deal with Trump's blustering in person. The last thing he needed was Trump figuring out a way to embarrass him, which is something Trump likes doing.

Trump's now talking about making Mexico pay through some sort of tariff. What he clearly does not understand is that punishing Mexico economically will increase undocumented immigration, if a wall is there or not. It will hurt the many Americans who have ties of some sort with Mexico, and it will hurt border cities. It will hurt consumers, who will see prices go up.

Poor relations with Mexico probably resonate with his base. But they create unnecessary problems in the United States. The history of U.S.-Latin American relations has often been one of the United States creating self-inflicted wounds. Unfortunately that is the path we seem to be going down now.

Update: He just announced a 20% tariff on Mexican goods, so we're about to enter a trade war with an ally. Everyone loses.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP