The Mexican government is working overtime to prevent President Trump’s tariffs from taking effect. [Reeling from tariff threat, Mexico begins immigration talks in Washington, by Frank Jack Daniel, Reuters, June 3, 2019]
As always, I would not underestimate Mexico’s leaders, who make Russian “meddling” look amateur. But it’s clear they know Trump has the high cards. Will Trump use them?
Mexico must have a guy whose job is just to follow Trump’s tweets! The original tariff tweets (here and here) were tweeted out at 4:30 p.m., May 30th. Before the midnight bell had tolled, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (a.k.a. AMLO) had already sent and published an official letter of protest to Trump.
As I’ve noted before, the leftist AMLO is actually careful not to antagonize Trump. So his letter, while forceful, continued his policy of appealing to Trump without abuse. Some highlights (my translation):
…I do not want confrontation. The peoples and the nations that we represent deserve that, in our relations, as serious as our conflicts may be, that we utilize dialogue and act with prudence and responsibility.
Carta al Presidente Trump México - Presidencia de la República, May 30, 2019
AMLO claimed that “we are fulfilling our responsibility to avoid, as much as possible and without violating human rights, passage through our country.”
But thousands are still getting through. Look at this May 29 video of illegals crossing the border at El Paso.
Raw video: Over a thousand migrants caught crossing border near El Paso, Texas, May 30, 2019.
That’s the issue here.
This paragraph was perhaps the strongest:
President Trump, social problems are not resolved with impositions/taxes [AW: my translation—could be either] or coercive measures. How is the country of brotherhood for the migrants of the world [i.e. the U.S.] converted overnight into a ghetto, a closed space, where those who seek with effort and work to live free of misery are stigmatized, mistreated, pursued/ persecuted [could be either], expelled and their right to justice cancelled? The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol.
But note that even this discredited Statue of Liberty nonsense doesn’t bash Trump personally.
Then there’s this:
With all respect, although you have the sovereign right to say it, the “America First” slogan is a fallacy, because until the end of time, more importantly than national borders is that justice and universal human brotherhood will prevail.
Hey, why not have justice, brotherhood and national borders?
The letter was signed “Your friend, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Mexico”.
The next morning, AMLO spoke about the tariff threat at the beginning of his press conference before even taking questions—but, again, more respectfully than many of Trump’s American critics:
I want to insist that we are not going to fall into any provocation, that we are going to act with prudence, with respect for U.S. authorities, and with respect for President Donald Trump.
Conferencia de prensa del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador, del 31 de mayo de 2019 [“Press Conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, May 31, 2019”]. Presidential Website, May 31, 2019
Later on, AMLO said that
…we are going to overcome this attitude of the U.S. government. They are going to rectify it because the people of Mexico don’t deserve the kind of treatment that it [i.e. the U.S. government] wants to apply.
In reality, the application of a tariff is not an injustice to Mexico. And in this case, it’s only a tool to control immigration.
The Mexican president also expressed confidence that Trump is going to change his mind:
I think that President Trump is going to understand that this is not the way to resolve things.
Hmm. See “Kushner,” below….
And during AMLO’s most recent morning press conference, he continued his friendly signals:
We are not going to get mixed up in a confrontation. We are thinking of how to arrive to an agreement with the U.S. government and we are continuing to consider that the government of the United States is a friendly government to Mexico, and I want to continue being a friend of President Donald Trump.
Conferencia de prensa del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador, del 3 de junio de 2019
[“Press Conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, June 3, 2019”]
Mexican Presidential Website, June 3, 2019
AMLO’s point man is the country’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, who arrived in Washington, D.C. the day after Trump’s tweet.
Ebrard is a highly accomplished politician, prominent even before becoming Foreign Minister, and he may be a president of Mexico in the future.
Ebrard tweeted on on May 31 at 4:10 PM that “We will be firm and we will defend the dignity of Mexico.”
He has a meeting scheduled with his counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Wednesday, June 5th. Note that he’s not waiting to fly north the night before. Ebrard flew to D.C. the day after Trump's tariff tweet and five days before the Pompeo meeting.
Even before departing, Ebrard tweeted from the airport at 12:27 (here) and that he had already spoken by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo—and Presidential Son-in-Law Jared Kushner.
Think about that. Marcelo Ebrard hopes to get Jared Kushner on his side!
(That might not be too difficult. According to the New York Times, Kushner objected to the tariff threat but was overruled. But this may not be the last Trump hears from Kushner. Ebrard may be trying to maneuver the First Son-in-Law back against the tariffs. Trump Is Said to Have Overruled Kushner and Other Aides in Threatening Mexico With Tariffs By Ana Swanson, Maggie Haberman and Alan Rappeport, June 1, 2019)
Ten minutes later, presumably still waiting in the airport, Ebrard explained in a tweet why he was going:
They ask me why we’re beginning Friday: the relevance of the issue, preparation of the arguments and a common strategy of government branches demands intense labor. Also we have to see allies of Mexico during the weekend. That’s why I’m departing now.
Me preguntan porqué iniciar viernes : relevancia del asunto,preparación de argumentos y estrategia común de áreas del gobierno exigen trabajar intensamente.Tambien hay que ver a aliados de México durante el fin de semana. Por eso salgo ahora.— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) May 31, 2019
Who are these “allies of Mexico”? Chamber of Commerce types? Hispanic organizations? Democrats? Republicans? All of the above?
On Saturday, at 8:27 a.m. Foreign Minister Ebrard tweeted that he was in the Mexican embassy.
Ya en la embajada de México en Washington. Se estarán incorporando entre hoy y miércoles:la Dra Graciela Márquez,Secretaria de Economía;Jesús Seade,subsecretario para América del Norte;Lázaro Cárdenas, Coordinador de Asesores de la Presidencia de la República.— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) June 1, 2019
His next tweet, at 9:25 a.m., includes a photo of Foreign Minister Ebrard and a tableful of diligent, as usual mostly white-looking, Mexican officials preparing for the meeting with Pompeo. Ebrard (#5 on the left side of the table, in the blue shirt) tweets that they are “Developing Mexico’s arguments and the evaluation of the impact of the announced tariffs on the economy.”
Elaborando los argumentos de México y la evaluación de impacto de las tarifas anunciadas en la economía. pic.twitter.com/JjLiHHXZQl— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) June 1, 2019
I bet they are.
So what arguments are Ebrard and company likely to make? Probably these two:
There is some evidence that Mexico is acting more against caravanners and other illegals—see here and here. But obviously, it’s not good enough, because many thousands (AMLO says about half are from Honduras) are still passing through Mexico, from Central America to the U.S. border.
On Monday June 3rd, in a press conference at the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C., Ebrard said:
The imposition of tariffs, together with the decision to cancel aid programs in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, can have a counter-productive effect and will not reduce the migratory flows. The tariffs would cause financial and economic instability, which means that Mexico’s ability to tackle the migratory flows and offer alternatives to the new migrants who have recently arrived to the country would be reduced.
Aranceles a México generarían inestabilidad económica: Ebrard [“Tariffs on Mexico would Generate Economic Instability: Ebrard”] by Enrique Sanchez, Excelsior, June 3, 2019
This is utter bunkum. There is no reason that getting control of immigration would be of any harm to the Mexican economy. In fact, Mexico ought to be doing that anyway, even without the tariffs.
Unhelpfully, Ebrard has tweeted that “The migratory flow from Central America and other countries and the high consumption of drugs are not the responsibility of Mexico.”
México es el principal socio comercial de Estados Unidos.Lo que reciben de nuestro país son bienes y servicios esenciales,productividad.El flujo migratorio de Centroamérica y otros países o el elevado consumo de estupefacientes no son responsabilidad de México.— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) May 31, 2019
The huge market for drugs in the U.S. does finance the Mexican cartels. That is absolutely correct and it’s a big problem for Mexico.
But Ebrard is also saying that “the migratory flow” is also is not Mexico’s fault either. Really? Regardless of where the illegals are from, they are entering the U.S. from Mexico. So we do have a right to call Mexico to account for that.
Of course we need to get control of our own border. But if Mexico could reduce the numbers arriving at our border, that would be a big help.
And not only to us. Many Mexicans are tired of the illegal aliens in their country.
And, AMLO himself has said that migration should be controlled . So there’s no reason for the President of Mexico to lose face. If he doesn't want the tariffs, AMLO should crack down more on illegal immigration in Mexico.
Patriots must beware of the machinations of Marcelo Ebrard and his team of intelligent and well-connected Mexican diplomats. Any deal made with Mexico must reduce the arrival of border crossers to our border with Mexico.
But Ebrard is here because Mexico is scared.
If there’s no deal, it’s tariff time!
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.