The New York Post
February 22, 2017
Send in the clean-up crews.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly will land in Mexico City Wednesday. Like “the Wolf,” Harvey Keitel’s character in “Pulp Fiction,” their task is to mop up the mess.
It’s a recurring theme for the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence was sent last week to massage wounded European Union egos hurt during the election campaign. Defense Secretary James Mattis was dispatched to reassure NATO leaders they’re not “obsolete,” promise Iraqis we won’t “take their oil” and calm South Korean and Japanese nerves.
Mexico is more complex. In rousing anti-Mexican sentiments during the campaign, President Trump damaged relations with one of America’s most important partners. And it ain’t over: On Tuesday, Kelly ordered more deportations of illegal immigrants, many of them of Mexican origin.
The new deportation orders are “unfriendly, hostile and needlessly aggressive acts,” said Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister who, like his former boss, ex-President Vicente Fox, has been advocating that Mexican officials push back on Trump ever since the president started calling Mexicans “criminals” and “rapists.”
And those are the pro-US centrists.
Then there’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a far-left Mexican politician who joined anti-Trump protests in California last week. AMLO, as he’s known, has been running for president for decades, encouraging street riots and claims of being the victim of election fraud.
He’s been a marginal figure in Mexican politics for years, but now, riding a wave of anti-Gringo sentiments, this anti-American Chavista is suddenly running ahead of all other potential candidates in early presidential polls. The election is scheduled for next year, and a Lopez Obrador victory would spell trouble for Mexico. And for us.
But even if he loses (again), Trump’s hostility toward Mexico has costs.
Trade wars set off by tariffs or fights over who will pay for the border wall mean your guacamole, a favorite American snack, may become more of a luxury as avocado prices double at the supermarket. Same goes for other vegetables.
Speaking of which: Once considered the country’s vegetable-growing bread basket, Mexico’s Sinaloa state is now widely known for its most famous homeboy, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the drug lord currently residing in a downtown New York jail cell.
The war on drugs made growing narcotics in Sinaloa and elsewhere much more lucrative than growing vegetables. Can that be reversed?
For years, Mexicans wondered why they should spill blood on behalf of their drug-addicted northern neighbor. That question will only grow louder as we threaten to build a wall, demand they pay for it and talk about starving the country’s economy.
Can Kelly convince them, a day after ordering more deportations, to stick by the Merida Initiative, a drug-fighting security-cooperation pact? And without Mexico’s cooperation, will Trump be able to fulfill a campaign promise to end the drug epidemic in American suburbs?
Away from the suburbs, how about America’s corn growers? More than 60 percent of their exports are to Mexico. Fearing new tariffs, Mexicans are starting to negotiate importing corn from other growers around the world. Trump won Iowa in November, but the state’s voters won’t take kindly to paying the price for his bluster.
And true, forcing companies to relocate from Mexico back to the United States would create good jobs for Americans. Even if symbolic, that’s a good thing. But what does it do to Mexico?
For half a decade, more Mexican nationals have returned home from America than came up here. If jobs become scarce at home, that trend could reverse. With each closing factory, more Mexicans will risk jumping over the wall (or tunnel underneath it) to look for jobs in el-Norte.
But we can then deport them, right? Well, not necessarily all of them, if US-Mexico relations sour. Castaneda proposes opening Mexico’s border only to deportees that can prove Mexican citizenship. That could prompt a pileup in US internment camps — and political problems for Trump.
Mexico’s business community and political class would prefer to be a “long-standing neighbor and friend,” as Tillerson defined their country in his confirmation hearing. The alternative could end a century of calm at the southern border.
All of which is to say: The Wolf and his cleanup crew can’t arrive soon enough.
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