By RICARDO CASTILLO
I stand my ground on being an honest journalist, but sometimes I can’t see an international problem developing without thinking who could this benefit? In this case, I am referring to something like the massive Central American migration we have witnessed over the past year?
The only answer became evident some 10 days ago: U.S. President Donald J. Trump. I confess that I have been on the verge of making up my own “fake news” item claiming that Trump’s secret agents purposely provoked the migration crisis now underway by inviting Central Americans to ask for asylum in Mexico. Ask me to prove it: I can’t. But knowing the hardball tactics of the master of “The Art of the Deal,” it seems too obvious to me – at least – that this quagmire we’ve been through the last few months was provoked by The Donald to build up momentum both to get money for his wall and look good when he launches his reelection bid next June 18.
Trump’s vicious tweeting rhetoric over the past two weeks, threatening to bring the downfall of Mexico’s evolving economy, was brutal, to put it mildly. “We don’t need them; they need us,” referring to the Mexican government, was one of his last tirades while still in Europe on D-Day commemoration ceremonies.
Why would I suspect that claims that Trump wrought the Central American migration crisis is not a fantasy? It started a year ago during the Mexican electoral process when the caravans began forming in Central America, with a rather small one of about a thousand people, with a guide coming out of Honduras. Then, it just went boom until we Mexicans got stuck with what we’ve got: a permanent quagmire.
It was clear that from the start the President Enrique Peña Nieto administration was going to do little or nothing to stop the human waves hitting our southern border. Once the president’s centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost the election to then-candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the volume of migrants began to rise, as the outgoing administration no longer cared about the situation, particularly after the people of Mexico had overwhelmingly voted against Peña Nieto’s hand-picked candidate.
When AMLO was sworn in on Dec. 1, the new president, though aware of the migration problem, had more important things to tackle than migration from Central America. Plus, he failed to enforce Mexico’s usually-strict immigration laws, granting temporary work visas to the Central American migrants, while the number of people making the trek north to the American Dream just kept swelling.
As you read this, there are over 10,000 migrants waiting at the Guatemalan border to be granted access to take the march north — indeed, a humanitarian mess AMLO got Mexicans into.
In March, there an early shot warning from Trump to AMLO. He sent his son-in-law and darling of the Peña Nieto regime, Jared Kushner, to tell AMLO to stop the migration or else. Even in this case, AMLO was still enjoying a political honeymoon with the Mexican people and getting familiar with “the pigsty” Peña Nieto left behind, mainly in terms of corruption.
Then, two weeks ago, Trump fired a real warning shot, this time saying that he would slap all Mexican exports with a monthly increasing 5 percent tariff for five months in a row, until reaching 25 percent in October, if AMLO took no action. “These guys have been talking about doing something to stop Central American migration for 25 years,” Trump warned, again referring to the Mexican government. “We want action, not talk.”
This brought about last week’s bilateral negotiations, which brought about a four-point agreement in which Mexico is to deploy as of Monday, June 10, 6,000 members of the newly integrated National Guard, begin registering every entry into Mexico, have migrants use Mexico as a stay base while their asylum status is processed by U.S. Border Protection agents, and allow these migrants to return and remain in Mexico while their visas are processed.
Plus, the Mexican government, through its new National Guard, will try to dismantle the human trafficking organizations, as well as their financial and illegal transportation networks.
On the evening of Saturday, June 8, AMLO held a mass meeting in Tijuana to make it a clear that his administration is working in tandem with Trump’s and “with the American people,” now that there is a settlement to “the dispute,” apparently concocted by The Donald.
In the aftermath, Trump’s vicious tweets turned into sweet comments. Just read his latest tweet, issued Saturday night:
“I would like to thank the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, together with all of the many representatives of both the United States and Mexico, for working so long and hard to get our agreement on immigration completed,” Trump wrote.
Oh My God! This just makes my heart melt!
In the end, AMLO played his cards right and no doubt the ace up his sleeve was the integration during his first six months in office of the National Guard. Now this national police force, which is slated to grow to over 150,000 agents – all previously trained military personnel – was originally thought to take on organized criminal gangs but, given the recent crisis, will also function as migration control agents.
The good, not fake, news is that the crisis has been quelled and Mexicans are ready to continue their daily chores of making a living without having to move north to do so.
But back to the original fake-news theory that this quagmire was the product of Trump’s politically feverish mind in order to make him look like an attractive candidate next year. I bet you two-to-one that is the case.
But did Trump really purposely incite the Central American migration crisis for political gain? Definitely, this writer can’t prove it — no fake news here — but do I consider Trump capable of scheming such a nefarious move?
Most definitely, I do.