President Enrique Peña Nieto will have a top dog as top guest for Independence Day celebrations starting Friday night.
The main invitee will be no other than U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis who will not only be behind the President as he delivers the “Cry of Independence” (El Grito) at 11 p.m. Sept. 15 but also will flank him during the formal military parade carried out in Mexico City on Sept. 16.
The presence of General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is getting two extreme reactions. Obviously one is of greater improvement of friendly relations with the White House as it was U.S. President Donald Trump who appointed Mattis to represent him in the Independence events. The other is from the anti-gringo leftists who consider Mattis visit as an ominous shadow of military domination of the United States over Mexico. Take your pick.
Plus the ever growing number of Peña Nieto detractors considers this gist as one more “proof” of the President’s “submission” to the White House given the recent events of Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray siding with The Donald on politically hot issues as Venezuela and North Korea.
Some are even reading it as American support of the “increasing militarization” of Mexico only because in the new 2018 Federal Government Budget Peña Nieto is hiking the monies for the Navy (Marina) from 26.3 billion pesos in 2017 to 31.3 in 2018 and the Defensa (Army) from 69.4 in 17 to 81 billion in 2018.
It will be the first time in history that a head of the Defense Department visits Mexico not on an organizational mission but on a diplomatic one. The announcement was made before Trump called Peña Nieto to express his sorrow for the victims of last Thursday’s earthquake.
Extremists – not terrorists, well, verbal terrorists maybe – claim that General Mattis is coming to “supervise” the Mexican Armed Forces making the almost sacred Independence commemoration a “theatrical” event and an “imposition of the Trump administration” of the worst form of background Mexicans can hope for.
The one that must be in awe with the presence of General Mattis is no doubt President Peña Nieto as every time Trump calls him or as is in this case sends a military toughie as representative his acceptance ratings plummet.
Another blurry message from the controversial presence of General Mattis is that traditionally it has been the standing U.S. ambassador who is the invitee both to the “Grito” and the military parade and surely it is to be expected that Ambassador Roberta Jacobson will be present but definitely as a “concertino” or second fiddle and to my knowledge, Jacobson has done a very good job of shadow diplomacy between the governments of the two nations.