By RICARDO CASTILLO
Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) are mulling over whether Trump should or should not attend AMLO’s inaugural ceremony on Dec. 1.
Trump last week said he was expecting to have a great relationship with AMLO, and even considering visiting Mexico. He left the possibility open by saying, “we’ll see what happens.”
AMLO is considering the invitation. regardless of the fact that the Trump administration has not bothered to appoint a new ambassador to Mexico and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken matters with Mexico into his own hands, creating a sort of diplomatic vacuum between the two nation that has been filled up for the most part between Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“I hope the good relationship with the U.S. government is maintained,” said AMLO in a flash visit to the border town San Luis Río Colorado and Guaymas just as U.S. Customs and a Border Protection (CBP) spokesman in El Paso announced the construction of an 18-feet high wall in the Chihuahuita neighborhood in El Paso to replace an old fence.
AMLO told reporters that his reaction was “not to seek confrontation, but rather to convince (the United States) that the immigration problem is not going to be solved building walls or with the use of force.”
For the umpteenth time, AMLO avoided expressing an opinion over Trump’s nemesis, the lack of funds to construct a 1964-mile-long wall along the border, and repeated “we’re not going to pick a fight with President Donald Trump, peace and love.” AMLO once again made the V sign of old bygone ages of the Vietnam War.
All that, however, does not answer the question of what will happen if AMLO does extend Trump an official invitation to his inaugural address and if Trump were to decide to attend.
As soon as AMLO mentioned this possibility, an array of Mexican and U.S. immigrants groups announced they would start working to organize a protest of Trump’s presence in Mexico. The motives need no explanation since these groups feel offended by Trump’s campaign disdain for Mexican “rapists and criminals,” that in his first statements included all Mexicans.
So it would not be farfetched to expect there to be not just one protest, but nationwide anti-Trump repudiation marches, including a massive one in Mexico City, right outside the Chamber of Deputies, where, assumedly, AMLO would receive the presidential sash (this is still in the planning stage).
The real question, however, is what would this do to AMLO’s currently growing popularity. My own guess is that it would start his popularity on a downhill skid. The basis for my opinion on the matter is just one: Take a look at what happened to President Enrique Peña Nieto when he welcomed Trump at the still presidential residence of Los Pinos on Aug. 31, 2016.
Peña Nieto’s popularity began to crumble further after that fiasco, and never recovered again. Trump’s visit to Mexico was one of the main reasons why Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was not only voted overwhelmingly out of power, but is now — after being the nation’s almighty political machinery for 70 years – a meaningless minority organization in both houses of Congress.
In short, as a pundit put it back in those days of U.S. electioneering: “Trump gave the devil’s kiss to the future of Peña Nieto.”
Even if Trump’s behavior towards Mexico has gone from totally misbehaving to one of contention – including the commitment to sign a bilateral free-trade agreement replacing NAFTA – it does not change the mindset of most Mexicans regarding Trump’s racism towards the nation’s people.
This alone should suffice as reason enough for AMLO to reconsider inviting Trump and for Trump to reconsider visiting Mexico. He would unquestionably get a “Gringo Go Home” welcome reception. And mind you, today we live in times – over a million U.S. expats living in Mexico can vouch for this – in which expats and U.S. visitors are more than welcome.
Definitely, there are less astringent, less rough-and-tumble personalities than the U.S. president in the Trump administration to represent him at AMLO’s grand opening ceremony. One of the first names that comes to mind is that of Vice President Mike Pence, along with that of Secretary of State Pompeo.
All this is now under AMLO’s consideration. Inviting Trump – and this is my opinion – would be a gross and indelible error for AMLO to commit as he begins his honeymoon with the Mexican people.
Doing it would definitely signify having the worst curse possible, “El Beso del Diablo,” indeed, the Devil’s Kiss.
And that is exactly what would happen!