Enrique Peña Nieto, the current president of México, like his predecessors, is chasing the Almighty Dollar. This is the single most significant reason that Donald Trump can denigrate Mexicans, because the Mexican government would rather play “political niceties” rather than stand up to the bully that Donald Trump is. The Peña Nieto government believes that it can negotiate with Trump, at the expense of Mexican pride. It needs to stop.
There are times when diplomacy can, and should be used for international relations, but there are times when nationalism must draw the line in the sand. Trump has denigrated Mexicans and México from the moment he officially announced his presidential candidacy. There is no ambiguity in Donald Trump’s hatred of Mexicans.
In response, the Enrique Peña Nieto administration has been playing a pacification strategy of trying to influence Donald Trump through placating and back-channel diplomacy. They’ve taken the tact of not “poking the bear” so as not to provoke him. In doing so they’ve sold out our dignity.
There are many factors at play with the July presidential elections and the national economy at the forefront. On the economy, México’s dependence on NAFTA gives the United States an edge in the intra-country relationship. The Mexican bureaucracy is hoping to keep NAFTA largely intact to keep the Mexican economy stable. Obviously, the industrialists, like Carlos Slim, are hoping to emerge from the Trump debacle economically intact and thus are pushing diplomacy over defending national pride for the sake of the Almighty Dollar.
Therein lies the problem for the U.S.-México relationship debacle that has reigned for centuries. México needs to stop chasing the Almighty Dollar and assert itself as the eleventh-largest economy in the world by embracing the rest of the world economically. To do so, México must not only look for other economic partners, but it must also assert itself on the world stage to include playing a role in international affairs. México must stop thinking NAFTA, i.e. regional economic prosperity and start positioning itself as a strategic player in international diplomacy. Yes, it will be painful, but it is necessary.
Tentative steps have been taken previously at the United Nations, but México remains hampered by the Estrada Doctrine. The Estrada Doctrine determined that México, as its cornerstone of international diplomacy, must not interfere with the internal operations of another country. In other words, México remains neutral when it comes to the internal politics of nations such as North Korea. Over the last few years, México has tentatively moved away from the Estrada Doctrine, but largely remains limited by it, especially when it comes to Donald Trump.
Trump has said he must build a wall on the United States-México border and has demanded that México will pay for it. In regards to building the wall, the Mexican official policy is that it is an internal matter for the U.S. However, in regards to paying for The Wall, the obvious stance from México is that it will not pay for it.
But because of the upcoming presidential elections and the threat to the economy, the Enrique Peña Nieto administration has been playing the diplomacy game with Donald Trump, trying to placate him while keeping the paying of the wall as a non-discussion item. Peña Nieto is trying to go to Washington to create the notion of an equal in front of Trump. Twice, the Mexican president has scuttled a trip to Washington at the last minute because of Trump’s insistence, that publicly at least, México plays the game of “México will pay for the wall”, if only in words.
The “México will pay for the wall” plays well for Trump’s supporters and Donald Trump insists on that narrative. The Mexican government, on the other hand, must keep the economy flowing by protecting NAFTA. This is where the insistence to travel to Washington comes into play. For the industrialists, who depend on international trade, the notion that all is well between México and the United States must be the narrative. That is why, both nations are pushing forth the narrative that the relationship “is closer” now then ever. Industrialists are nation-neutral and thus on both sides of the border the narrative must be that “all is well” between México and the United States.
But not all is well because the Mexican government, specifically Enrique Peña Nieto is kowtowing to Trump in an attempt to neutralize him for the Almighty Dollar.
Unfortunately for the Mexican people, internal politics are playing into the debacle because of the upcoming elections. Enrique Peña Nieto cannot be seen as giving into Trump because his party, the PRI, would be hurt on Election Day. Thus, Peña Nieto was once again forced to cancel his upcoming trip to meet Trump in Washington. He didn’t do it for the dignity of the Mexican people, he did it to protect his party.
There comes a time for when the bear needs to be poked, and the time is now.
Enrique Peña Nieto needs to make it clear, unequivocally clear, that México will not pay for The Wall. He needs to make it clear that The Wall is racist. He needs to stop trying to placate Donald Trump. But most importantly, the government of México needs to start pointing out individual states, like Texas, how economically painful it will be to them to allow Trump to continue to denigrate México and our people.
Not by glossies or fancy websites, but by action. Start by imposing draconian cross-border restrictions on certain commodities from Texas to México. Yes, Trump will likely retaliate, forcing México to double-down, triple-down and so forth. It will be economically painful. Stop cooperating on immigration interdiction. Stop assisting the U.S. in drug interdiction. Have the Mexican security forces focus on national issues for some time, like focusing on drug peddling on the streets instead of going after the drug lords. The drug lords care only about access to the U.S. market and would welcome less Mexican cooperation with the U.S., thus possibly lowering the violence in México.
The Texas economy, for example, would suffer by declining exports and increased expenses to police drug trafficking and the resulting violence. A tipping point would result, either, the Texas industrialists and their government patsies would demand Trump scale back his attacks, or Texas will triple-down and escalate the problem.
There is the Almighty Dollar at play. The politicos might be tempted to resist and triple-down the confrontation, but the industrialists only see The Almighty Dollar and they’ll demand that their subordinates, the politicos, temper down their nationalistic tendencies because of the industrialists, it is not about national pride, but about the Almighty Dollar.
But wouldn’t that be self-defeating to México, after all, the United States has the largest economy and can outlast México in any trade war.
Yes, México has a Trump card.
The State of California has the largest economy of all the states. It also boasts the friendliest local politicians with México and, especially immigrants. México can send a clear message to the states by offering incentives to California while punishing states like Texas. It will be painful for México nonetheless, but the message would be clear.
While Enrique Peña Nieto plays the diplomacy game, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, rises in the polls, positioning himself to become the next president of México. Make no mistake, regardless of AMLO’s pontifications of not being a leftist, his whole life has been about making México the next leftist utopia putting the Mexican people on the road to becoming the next Venezuela – all because people are chasing the Almighty Dollar.