By SILVIO CANTO, JR.
As expected, when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) met U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time on Wednesday, July 8, the show was very diplomatic and cordial. It usually is when heads of state visit the White House.
My guess is that the “face-to-face” conversation was much more blunt and candid. In other words, AMLO recognized the fact that he really needs a strong U.S. economic recovery and lots of help on the border if he is going to survive politically for the rest of his six-year term.
Indeed, after less than two years in office, AMLO is facing failure on practically every front, and his once-impressive popularity rating has dropped dramatically in recent months, by some accounts to just 47 percent.
Crime is at an all-time high, with the murder rate in 2019 — his first year in office — up by 2.7 percent — and predictions for 2020 are that the number will be even higher.
Even before the covid-19 pandemic hit — and Mexico is registering thousands of new cases daily and has one of the world’s highest fatality rates — the country’s economy was flat in 2019, with a zero growth rate.
Let’s start with Topic Number 1 in Mexico, i.e., the growing crime statistics.
No matter what source you consult, crime in Mexico is out of control. Al Jazeera wrote: “A record high of more than 35,000 people were murdered in Mexico in 2019, according to official data, as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador struggled to rein in violent crime in his first year in office. A report released by the Secretariat of Public Security … showed there were a total 35,588 murders last year … (compared to) 2018, when 33,743 victims were recorded.”
It was the highest rate since 1997, the first year for which there is an official record. The 2019 rate equals an average of 95 murders per day in Mexico, a country that has been plagued with violence since 2006, when the government deployed the military to wage the so-called war on drugs.
Crime ,or “inseguridad,” is the chief topic that everybody in Mexico is talking about. It can impact anyone, as we saw recently with the assassination attempt on Mexico’s chief of police.
As a Mexican friend told me on the phone, the police chief has more security than Trump and they almost got him!
The Mexico economy has stopped growing. In fact, it could fall by as much 9 percent in 2020.
Mexico’s economic decline began before the coronavirus outbreak.
Last but not least, Mexico is getting hit very hard by covid-19. How bad has Mexico been hit? This is from Pulse News Mexico: “Given the mounting contagion of coronavirus in Monterrey, Nuevo León Health Secretary Manuel de la O Cavazos announced on Tuesday, July 7, that the city is running out of space to store the dead.”
His plan? To place the corpses in freezers and put those freezers in plain sight of everyone in a city mall, hoping that this will make residents take the virus seriously.
I should add that Monterrey is the third.largest city in Mexico and a major industrial hub.
So Lopez-Obrador needs “el amigo” Trump a lot at this time. He needs help on the border to stop all of those guns and cash going south. He needs foreign investment to rebuild his economy.
On the other hand, Trump has every incentive to help ailing Mexico, both to boost the U.S. economy through the newly enacted United States-Mexico. Canada Agreement (USMCA) and to garner Latino voters.
Given all that, we may just be witnessing the start of the most realistic U.S.-Mexico relationship in years.
SILVIO CANTO, JR. is a Cuban-born U.S. citizen who teaches English at a north Texas college. He is the author of the book “Cubanos in Wisconsin” and has a daily online radio program and blog dealing with U.S. and Latin American politics, as well as sports and historic events, and is a regular contributor to American Thinker.
…July 11, 2020