La noche Triste

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    Enrique Bravo

    I expected to write a post about the challenges to rebuild a relationship between Clinton and the Mexican Government. Instead, I am facing the worse possible scenario I could think of: A Trump presidency and a Republican Congress, with majorities in both the House and the Senate. Ah, and did I mention the chance to nominate a few US Supreme Court justices?

    I wholeheartedly hope to be wrong, but I think this result will represent the beginning of an assault on decades of progress in certain civil rights and democratic development in the United States. Democratic stability and rule cannot be taken for granted, and I hope US institutions will be strong enough to withstand what lies ahead. Whether we like it or not, this result represents a clear reminder of the shortcomings of creating a liberal democratic system that works for most people. I will leave that discussion for a different forum, but needless to say, we can only expect hard times for the US, and certainly for the U.S.-Mexico relationship. what are the first steps to take? how should Mexico face this scenario?

    This was a noche triste.

    Johanna Reyes

    Last night was a surprise to me as it was to many. As we watched the unthinkable unfold, we wondered if Mexican and Latino immigrants failed to do all they could. One third of Latinx voters supported Trump in this election, clearly making a difference and shedding light on an incredibly fearing and divided population. What lies ahead is a period of mourning and re-organization, backlash, fear, and resignation. The latter, of course, being the worst-case scenario as we saw thousands of people already marching on the streets last night and this morning, condemning Donald…Americans are outraged.

    Mexico today faces a greater challenge than it ever has. Its failing and inadequate public diplomatic efforts need to be urgently rethought and restructured. The backslash against President Peña for inviting Trump can become a mere joke, or a reason to oppose his administration and foreign policy tools even more. Today, Mexico is racing against time to salvage its diaspora in the US, NAFTA, and its leading advances in environmental consciousness. With a Republican President, House, and Senate, today, Mexico and the Mexican Embassy in Washington have to work harder than ever towards legitimizing what our country and our immigrants stand for.

    Now is the time for old and young Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Latinos to organize themselves, to collaborate with each other, and stand together as one, a task in which we have sadly failed to this day.


    I am having problems interpreting my feelings and even a harder time to use words to describe the phenomenon that just occurred. I feel as lost as the majority (even though some won’t admit it) of the political analysts, pollsters, and the news media who completely failed to understand what was really occurring.

    Here are some points I take from the election (I hope you agree with the majority of them):

    1. America is truly a divided nation between races and generations
    2. The never ending election has proven to be too taxing on people. And did I mention too expensive?
    3. Hillary Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama 71 percent four years ago. I believe the reason behind this is due to Obama’s actions of deporting millions of immigrants. But still, it is a shock that Hillary performed poorly with Latinos against a man who started the election calling Mexican “rapist”.
    4. This election reminds me of the famous quote: “Democrats fall in love while Republicans fall in line”. Democrats are truly bad at winning elections. ‘
    5. Based on Trump’s 100 days plan I am afraid for NAFTA and the consequences it can have on Mexico’s economy. I also fear for our planet, which is also one of the biggest losers in the election. Trump has stated he will revoke the Paris agreement, plans to limit or even vanish EPA, and he wants to impulse damaging energy production of shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal.
    6. The election should be a wake-up call not only for America or for the US-Mexico relationship, but for all of us. The political and economic system has failed in providing solutions to today’s challenges. We should accept this fact and work together and innovate new ways of conducting politics and economics that are more equal and just.

    Pamela Starr

    These portions of a Pacific Council on International Policy interview, Dr. Pamela K. Starr discusses the future of U.S.-Mexico relations, why Mexico should be proactive about renegotiating NAFTA, and the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform under the Trump administration. Do you agree? Join the conversation by commenting below.

    Pacific Council: What will it mean for U.S.-Mexico relations if President-elect Trump lives up to some of his campaign promises, including imposing tariffs on Mexico, building a border wall and insisting that Mexico pays for it, renegotiating NAFTA, or deporting millions of undocumented immigrants?

    Starr: There are two ways to see the U.S.-Mexico relationship going forward. The first is based on a literal interpretation of what President-elect Trump said when he was a candidate for president. I don’t think that this is the more likely scenario, for a few reasons.

    In his interview on 60 Minutes, Trump made it plain that the immigrants that he wants to deport as quickly as possible are those who “have criminal records — gang members, drug dealers,” which he overestimated to be 2 to 3 million. That’s still a large number. While he certainly is going to beef up deportation efforts, as House Speaker Paul Ryan put it, “We are not planning on erecting a deportation force.” That doesn’t mean that Mexicans living in the United States without documentation and other undocumented immigrants aren’t going to be concerned, but I don’t think there’s going to be a deportation force.

    It’s not worth damaging a very important bilateral relationship over something as silly as insisting that Mexico pay for a border wall. Trump will realize that once he becomes president.

    During that same 60 Minutes interview, Trump said that he would build a border wall but that certain parts of it “could be fencing.” It’s also abundantly clear that Mexico is not going to pay for it. It’s not worth damaging a very important bilateral relationship over something as silly as insisting that Mexico pay for a border wall. Trump will realize that once he becomes president.

    Regarding his campaign pledge that he’s going to tax companies that outsource jobs to Mexico, constitutionally he can’t follow through on that. The constitution prohibits the president from taxing individual companies. He would have to tax an entire sector, not an individual company. He can in fact impose tariffs unilaterally, but it would take him declaring a state of national emergency. I don’t think he is going to declare a national emergency so he can put a 35 percent tariff on General Motors.

    I think that the right way to conceive of U.S.-Mexico relations going forward is to distinguish between the candidate Trump and President-elect Trump, who may still have the characteristics of a populist firebrand but also has a responsibility to govern. Under this view Mexico should look at Trump’s desire to deal with immigration and NAFTA as an opportunity.

    Like Nixon going to China, it may take a president like Donald Trump – with a Republican Congress – to actually pass comprehensive immigration reform.

    Mexico has long wanted comprehensive immigration reform. Like Nixon going to China, it may take a president like Donald Trump – with a Republican Congress – to actually pass comprehensive immigration reform. That reform won’t have a path to citizenship, but it may have what Mexico most wants and needs for its citizens living in the United States: a guarantee that they can live safely and won’t have to worry about deportation or discrimination. Those are the bottom lines for Mexico and for Mexicans living in the United States without documentation. A path to citizenship is nowhere near the top of what they want or need.

    NAFTA is a 25-year-old treaty, and it shows its age. It was negotiated before there was e-commerce or digital anything. It was negotiated before China entered the World Trade Organization. It was allowed to get out of date in the first place because it was so politically unpopular in the United States that you couldn’t even mention the word “NAFTA.” Donald Trump has made modernizing the treaty possible.

    PC: What has been the public’s reaction in Mexico to Donald Trump’s election? How will that response shape U.S.-Mexico relations going forward?

    Starr: Mexicans have been stunned. They’re horrified, and they’re feeling very defensive. They’re feeling vulnerable in the face of a very powerful United States that is promising to rub Mexico’s nose in the mud. On social media and in news commentary you see a defensive – “rally the troops and circle the wagons” – kind of response. Thankfully the Mexican government has been much more measured in its response to Trump’s election. But to the extent that the public is feeling defensive and anti-Trump, it’s going to be hard for a president with such low poll numbers to lead his country to a more positive viewpoint.

    The Mexican government needs to get its head around the idea that they shouldn’t be thinking about defending NAFTA, they should be thinking about getting out ahead of this negotiation process and coming to the table with a list of demands of what it wants in a renegotiation. Mexican President Peña Nieto is going to have to reach out into civil society for people to join in the process of renegotiating the treaty. He shouldn’t just do it from within the government. He needs to reach out to the former negotiators, those who worked the original master treaty, as well as universities, think tanks, and civil society groups.

    This is an opportunity for Mexico to say to the United States, “Bring it. We’re ready. We know exactly what we want in terms of the updating of this treaty.”

    This is an opportunity for Mexico to say to the United States, “Bring it. We’re ready. We know exactly what we want in terms of the updating of this treaty. Here is what we want and here is how we will help you achieve what you need and what you want.” What the United States most needs and wants is a North American platform to be able to compete with China. It needs a Mexico that is economically and politically stable so it can protect our back against international terrorism. It needs a North American partner who is willing to work with the United States across the board. Mexico can offer these things to the United States in exchange for a serious renegotiation of NAFTA.


    The results of the New Hampshire primary (and whichever candidate becomes president-elect this November) is, in my view, less important than which party secures the House and Senate in 2017.

    With all House seats up for grabs and a sizable chunk of Senate seats, too, the next Congress will have the opportunity to end a Year of Idiocy in regards to our relationship with Mexico.

    For the Senate, that opportunity is fairly straightforward and obvious: Stop the obstruction and appoint an ambassador to Mexico. Preferably Roberta Jacobson, although that ship might have already sailed.

    This lack of an appointment signals to Mexico – and the Mexican people – that their interests are not of critical importance. We’ve been down this road before, and it’s not beneficial for either country.

    Simply put, appointing a respected ambassador like Jacobson will do far more to improve the image of the United States in the hearts and minds of Mexicans and Mexican Americans than likely any other vote this year.

    Furthermore, a change in the House and Senate – coupled with a Clinton or Sanders presidency – could potentially signal opportunities for meaningful dp bbm tahun baru 2017 immigration, drug policy and criminal justice reforms. Doing our part on our soil to end Mexico’s drug violence would do wonders to improve America’s image.

    On the topic of Trump: it’s clear his xenophobic comments coupled with success in New Hampshire (and potential success in South Carolina, etc.) will only further hurt America’s image in Mexico, and indeed, all of Latin America. The middle class Colombians I spoke to last month were only slightly less worried about the rumors of Trump buying the local soccer team, Atletico Nacional, than they were about a possible Trump presidency. I suspect similar views on Trump are carried widely throughout the hemisphere.

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