By RICARDO CASTILLO
Hopefully, I’m wrong in my appraisal of curent Mexico-U.S. bilateral relations, but it all points in the direction that the pushy administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is about to shove the Mexican government again.
Lest we forget the predicament of last May, President Trump threatened to impose a 25 percent punishment export tariff on all merchandise heading north. That was not merely a scary, but also an ominous threat that sent shivers up the spine of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO.)
Fortunately, AMLO did not panic or over react. He grabbed the best thing he had at hand and used that still-immature National Guard to support National Migration Institute authorities to bring order into the humongous flow of people through the Guatemalan border using 10,000 national guardsmen (and women, as it is a mixed force) to cut the flow of the ever-growing migratory trend north.AMLO also posted 15,000 guards along the northern border to curtail transit of the mostly undocumented travelers.
But now again the rumblings of yet another Trump-made crisis is in the making. On Monday, Sept. 9, Vice President Mike Pence admonished Mexico for “not doing enough” in term of curving migration – which is not true – and that is just what is scary about Pence’s seemingly veiled threat.
Then on Tuesday, Sept. 10, again U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan delivered a message to the Mexican government. And he repeated it to the hilt:
“The Mexican government must do more” on U.S. border protection, he said. “Must do more.” This after Trump congratulating AMLO for all he’d done in his first reaction to the last May threats.
What Pence and Morgan really want is to fulfill Trump’s desire to turn Mexico into “a safe third nation.”
Immediately after Morgan’s speech, Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard sent a very clear message to the Trump-Pence-Morgan trio that on AMLO’s mandate, Mexico will not accept being a third safe nation the way Turkey is now performing for the European Union.
This was said by Ebrard, however, knowing that Mexico is hosting an immense flow of migrants and even offering jobs along the border within the maquiladora, in-bond industrial complex, which is currently offering 40,000 openings to all those willing to stay in Mexico. This, however, does not seem sufficient.
The fact is that, nowadays, Mexico is footing the bill for the migrants to the United States and is doing it at the same time the AMLO administration is presenting a federal income-expenditures budget for 2020 that many people in the nation consider austere.
But doing something, even more, may not satisfy what the United States really wants. This new shove – indeed no longer a push – comes at a moment when everyone in Mexico City and Washington (throngs of Republicans included, who want to convince the Democratic-run House of Representatives to vote for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (UMSCA), which all are counting on to continue the path of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a pact that was very good for the region.
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, Secretary Ebrard and Vice President Pence announced a gathering in Washington – along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – to whom Ebrard was going to deliver a resounding “no” on the third safe nation proposal.
This might just lead to having Trump use the trump card in his hand, which is refusing to sign the UMSCA, or at least hinting he would use this new threat to subdue AMLO once again and force him to accept the third safe nation imposition.
Definitely, we’ll be waiting for the news out of Washington and, as The Don repeatedly says when he threats somebody, which is just about every day: “Let’s see what happens.”