Our relationship with our neighbors to the North has always been a high priority for the country and its citizens. Over a long history sprinkled with tense and critical moments, toward the third millennium, we have moved to a framework of collaboration and correspondence. However, the framework does not ignore the evident economic asymmetries; the serious threats, like drug trafficking; or the effects of our migration history, which despite not being a phenomenon foreign to the American Union, has significantly transformed its society and its culture. As virtuous as it is, problems remain in the background which put strong pressure on institutions and legality.
It is a fact that both countries are connected beyond just the extensive common border. Their destinies are inexorably fused. In the three most recent decades, Mexico has positively transformed its politics and economy, even though the distance between the rich and poor, in both individuals and regions, has grown. If we assume that illegal immigration is a result of an incapacity to offer opportunities of well-being to millions of young people, the proposals to the solution don’t seem viable, like building walls and increasing border surveillance. Instead, we need to understand that migrations is an uncontrollable movement that stems from differences in the labor market. The best and most effective response is economic growth, especially in the most deprived zones of the country. But to everyones amazement, faced with prejudices in both countries, it should remain clear that Mexico loses and the United States benefit from immigration.
From this perspective, the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, celebrated on Thursday, with the participation of vice-president Joseph Biden representing the United States and Secretary of Treasury Luis Videgaray representing Mexico, was very important. The topics were ample and varied. During the occasion, the effects of China’s poor economy, the fall in oil prices and new private investment dynamics were discussed. It is the economy ― and this should remain clear ― that originates many of the problems, as well as the common worries about regional and global security.
During this occasion, the economic angle is more influential than the political one. However, the attention created by Biden’s declarations is understandable, especially about his own rejection of his government because of the businessman Donald Trump’s hostile words toward Mexico. His affirmations at the end of his meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto were not because of a difference in parties, but because of his evident disagreement with the ideas expressed by the aspiring republican presidential candidate.
To the surprise of many, Donald Trump is achieving his goal. Next week will be crucial. The candidates will debate and it is possible that the anti-Mexican rhetoric will continue ― and not only from Trump ― in order to win votes. We have to understand that this is what motivates part of the republican voters. They are persuaded by anti-Mexican proposals. The most important thing is to know if the majority of U.S. citizens subscribe to this aggressive and hostile posture.
One must consider that within the Republican Party, not everyone shares these ideas and that there are even people that have openly criticized the words of the businessman. In the past few days, the New York Times has referred to the differences between Donald Trump and the figure most relevant to the Republican Party, Paul D. Rayan, head of the Republican Convention. The incompatibility between the party’s agenda and Donald Trump’s stance is evident. There are irreconcilable differences in the areas of free commerce, social policies and real estate investment incentives. There are also discrepancies in his beliefs on international policies, especially in appropriating petroleum reserves from Iran through a military invasion, his neutrality on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the topic of immigration.
The circumstances demand a different approach, one that allows us to determine if an agenda like Donald Trump’s, which looks like it will give him the nomination, is also viable for him to reach the presidency. Different voters will determine the vote in this subsequent phase.
Given the circumstances, statements, like the one given by former President Vicente Fox when rejecting a wall being built between the two nations and the even more memorable one with a similar theme given by Pope Francis, are useful in moderating the candidates. However, to control the anti-Mexican rhetoric, more influential voices are needed, not just from political and business circles, but from the whole society, because testimonials from people who have little to do with politics are more valuable, and even more so if they don’t come from someone with Mexican origins. Today, more than ever, the country needs allies.
It is time to seriously analyze the possible evolution of North American politics in regard to Mexico, because sadly, beyond the haughty language and political opportunism, among many U.S. citizens there is a socialized idea that the relationship is inconvenient and an ignorance to the fact that Mexicans support the society, culture and economy of their country. It is time to think and act efficiently, sensibly and intelligently to give credit to our nation and its people.
It is possible that Mexico has been put in the middle of the U.S debate. The moderation is veering away from competence. Prevailing dynamics can promote questions about bilateral economy relationships and can incite prejudices and lies, like the ones that have already occurred in the republican primaries.
South of the border, Mexico continues to look for a route for better democracy and stronger institutions. The politicians of the country will be crucial and diversity will assume its responsibility for national unity. This will be the best way to control the rough winds from the North.