Thursday, April 04, 2019

Latin America Tries to Ignore Trump

Over the past several days, I have been writing about how the Trump administration paints itself into a corner with constant threats, most of which do not translate into action. That is true in Venezuela and for now it is also true for Central America. Trump made a huge deal about cutting aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for "doing nothing" about immigration. Nonetheless, the governments of both Honduras and El Salvador say they haven't been notified about anything:

Both Honduras and El Salvador pointedly said they had not been formally notified of any specific cuts in U.S. aid. Honduran Defense Minister Fredy Díaz said cooperation with the United States on security is "unchanged," while the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the relationship has been "solid, close and positive."
They are taking the same stance as AMLO after Trump trolled Mexico on Twitter, which is to ignore him. Step lightly and wait for Trump to be distracted by something else. They figure the chances of him actually doing anything--shutting the border, attacking Venezuela, cutting off all aid--are too low to bother with the risks of confrontation. (I should note, however, that the Mexican stock exchange did not ignore it).

Trump's "negotiation" style is to take an unreasonable position and wait for the other side to concede. Since time after time he backs off the unreasonable position, often without getting anything in return, it becomes easier to ignore. That is a situation ripe for misunderstanding and catastrophic results.

Update a few hours later: Trump says he will not close the border and will give Mexico a year to "stop the drugs," whatever that means. If you issue fake threats, why should any leader of another country listen to you?


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