Politico has a report on Mexico’s strategy:
Donald Trump has spent his entire presidential campaign warning against the dangers of Mexican immigrants stealing American jobs, raping women and hauling drugs across the border.As I reported back in June, the Mexican media reported Trump’s Initial Campaign speech within minutes after its delivery and the Mexican media and government have been going on and on about it since. They didn’t just start “fighting back”. See Meddling Mexicans Don’t Like Donald Trump. He’s Doing Something Right! from June 18th and my Mexican Meddling file here.
Now, Mexico is fighting back.
Mexico fights back against ‘The Clown’, by Nahal Toosi, Politico, May 13, 2016
But, Politico has finally discovered Mexican meddling, so it’s better late than never.
Mexican officials are pursuing a counteroffensive to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, reaching out to U.S. business leaders, looking at ways to better use social media, and even encouraging qualified Mexicans to get U.S. citizenship [I’ve already reported that, click here, here and here]. But they’re also trying to stay sensitive about taking more high-profile steps, such as running TV ads in an already overheated presidential race that promote Mexico as a friendly, vibrant neighbor and not a cesspool of criminals.Notice that Mexican officials are “reaching out to U.S. business leaders”. I don’t doubt they can find plenty of captains of industry more than willing to continue to sell out the American worker.
"We think that right now, in this phase where there is an electoral process going on, something that we should really do is stay out of it. An advertising campaign at this particular moment could just add confusion," José Paulo Carreño King, Mexico's new undersecretary for North America, said in an interview with POLITICO.Mexico is not “staying out of it”, its U.S. citizenship drive is specifically designed to naturalize voters to vote against Trump.
Carreño said the decision that Mexico needs to boost its image came after the country, which was being pummeled by Trump but trying to stay restrained, commissioned a series of polls and focus groups in the U.S. late last year.Americans want our border secured. They’re not against a good relationship with Mexico, but what’s going on is not a good relationship.
"What we found out is, again, that the image in general terms of Mexico was quite undervalued or more specifically out of date," he said. "The image of the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans was damaged and undervalued. And there was no clear image of the importance of the bilateral relationship. That’s when the Mexican government decided that, again, we need to do something."
There are several public signs of a shift in Mexico’s posture toward Trump, a man many in the Latin American country call "El Payaso" — "The Clown."I’ve already been writing about the Mexican ambassador, about the previous one (Basanez) and the decision to replace him with Carlos Sada, who, as the article says, is now officially the ambassador.
The Mexican embassy in Washington on Thursday [May 12] issued a sharp statement announcing that Carlos Sada Solana had assumed his role as the country’s new ambassador to the United States and that his “clear and precise” mandate is to defend the interests of Mexico and Mexicans.
In what appeared to be a swipe at the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the statement went on to say that the new envoy “recognized the need to reposition the image of Mexico in the United States in its just and rightful place.”
For nearly a year, Mexican officials have chafed at Trump’s inflammatory comments, including his pledges to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and to build a “great, great wall” along the southern border — and to have Mexico pay for it. Just last week, Trump drew scorn when he tweeted "I love Hispanics!" along with a photo of himself eating a "taco bowl" on Cinco de Mayo.When all else fails, you can just compare somebody to Hitler, right?
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, breaking with the diplomatic tradition of avoiding comment on another country's internal politics, has slammed Trump's "strident" tone and compared his rise to that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
While U.S. lawmakers from southern border states have been trying to reassure their Mexican counterparts (mindful of Mexico's enormous importance to U.S. trade) officials on both sides of the boundary line feel they now need to take greater action to counter Trump.Notice that “officials on both sides of the boundary line feel they now need to take greater action to counter Trump.”
Here’s the plan, according to Carreno :
Carreño outlined to POLITICO a multi-layered initiative to burnish Mexico's image. The plans, some of which are already launched, include greater use of traditional and social media, increased cultural outreach through Mexican consulates, and strengthened ties to American business and civil society groups.Once again, there’s that “American business”.
The new undersecretary landed in his current position just weeks ago as part of a major Mexican leadership shakeup in apparent response to the Trump phenomenon. Around half of the consuls general at Mexico's 50 U.S. consulates were reshuffled or replaced. The government also named Sada as the new Mexican ambassador.And then there is the citizenship drive I have written about.
Carreño, who has an extensive communications background, pointed out that educational campaigns about U.S.-Mexico relations aren't new. In the 1990s, when U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders were promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (a pact Trump despises), similar efforts helped sell the deal, he said.
Many of the details are still being worked out this time around. Activities promoted by the consulates could include promoting Mexican art and Mexican cuisine, he said. Meantime, Mexican officials are more actively reaching out to U.S. leaders through numerous channels, including grassroots activists and trade organizations, to emphasize the importance of America's third-largest trading partner.
Already, advocacy groups are pushing Mexicans with legal permanent residency in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship and register to vote in this year's elections. Mexican consulates have also been promoting U.S. citizenship workshops, though the official government line is that it is not an attempt to influence the election.And if you believe that part about “not an attempt to influence the election”, I’ve got some tropical beachfront property in Alaska to sell you.
Peter Schechter, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, said Mexicans are stunned to find themselves "the centerpiece of a nativist rhetoric that basically holds them as symbols of all that is wrong with our immigration policy, with our trade policy."Sorry, it’s not all about how Mexicans feel. This is our election, remember, and we can discuss any issues that are important, and we can elect anybody we choose. This is not Mexico’s election.
"Do they feel ransacked? Absolutely. Do they feel this has come out of nowhere? Absolutely. Do they feel that not enough Americans stood up and try to counter-punch and try to explain what the realities of the relationship are? Yes," said Schechter, who has extensive contacts in the Mexican government.
The Trump-inspired focus on the U.S.-Mexico relationship has led to some uncomfortable moments for U.S. lawmakers from border areas who often deal with Mexican leaders. Some have tried to calm nervous questioners about the limits of what Trump could do if elected.Yes, he gets it. It is resonating with many Americans, and that’s why Trump may actually win.
"I say that the U.S. government is bigger than just one person, and there are a lot of folks, and Congress is an equal branch of government," said Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican whose Texas district runs some 800 miles along the border.
But many in Mexico, as well Americans with family on both sides of the border, wonder if there are deeper issues at play.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who represents the major Texas border town of El Paso, said one Mexican lawmaker told him that "what’s alarming is not necessarily what Donald Trump is saying. What’s alarming is that Donald Trump is saying this, and it is resonating with a significant number of Americans."
In the meantime, Trump could start pointing out how Mexico is meddling in our election. As for politicians and businessmen who are helping Mexico meddle, he could call them out and put them on the spot.
This is our election, not Mexico’s.