A problem of great concern is no doubt President Enrique Peña Nieto’s (EPN) handling of the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE), in particular Mexico’s diplomatic relationship with the United States, and one of the reasons why president-elect Donald Trump has decided to bully Mexico as its patsy. Lack of true representations is indeed an issue now.
At the beginning of his presidency on Dec. 1, Peña Nieto introduced current Treasury and Public Finance Secretary (SHCP) José Antonio Meade Kuribreña — best known among pundits nowadays as “El Mil Usos,” or Jack of All Trades, after being Social Development Secretary — as SRE secretary. He had no previous diplomatic experience.
Then in 2015, for no apparent reason, EPN removed Meade Kuribreña for former Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu, who had no previous diplomatic experience.
Then just 10 days ago, EPN opted for removing Ruiz Massieu for former Treasury and Public Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray, who, you guessed it, had no diplomatic experience.
That’s the outlook of placing greenhorn diplomatic politicians at the SRE.
In the United States, EPN’s parade of Mexico ambassadors is also a list.
It began with former ambassador to Great Britain Eduardo Medina Mora, who was kicked upstairs to Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice in 2015. He was replaced by interim envoy Alejandro Estivil, who stayed until September 2015 when EPN appointed his former advisor in the State of Mexico, Miguel Basañez Ebergenyi, who had no previous diplomatic experience.
After one year in which Basañez proved beyond any doubt not to know or care much about the management of Mexico’s 52 consulates in the United States, he was removed to bring in Manuel Sada Solana, who for a change, is a career diplomat.
But now as soon as he took over the SRE, now “ambassador” Luis Videgaray opted to make further moves and took Ambassador Manuel Sada out of the Washington embassy to name him Undersecretary for North America and appointed Gerónimo Gutiérrez — a former Undersecretary for North America — as the new Ambassador in Washington. Gutiérrez has yet to be approved by the Mexican Senate.
The news of the new changes at the SRE and the Washington embassy were for sure the talk of the day last Wednesday during the last day of the 28th Diplomatic Reunion at the National Palace with the 120 foreign ambassadors stationed in the nation.
Luis Videgaray selected Gerónimo Gutiérrez based on his experience as executive at the North American Development Bank and his knowledge of the intricacies of the 22-chapters negotiated with Canada and the United States within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as having solid contacts with groups of interest related to each of the sectors that make up the over $1 billion a day in trade between Mexico and the United States alone.
Needless to point out, though apparently an excellent negotiator, Gerónimo Gutierrez also has no diplomatic experience.
Yet what Mexico has now under Videgaray — a doctor in economics — is the new scenario with which Mexico will have to answer to the new presidential Trump administration, which without wielding power over the past three months has pushed the peso value up against the wall. Although it must be said that at the Mexican Stock Exchange — the Bolsa — it is business as usual and no one has hit the panic button.
Just which way negotiations with the Trump administration will go remains to be seen.
Fortunately for Mexico’s greenhorn diplomats, Trump does not have diplomatic experience either so this might help to negotiate with his appointed trade negotiators.
But let’s just hope that by next Monday the many changes that EPN has made at SRE, creating an image of instability and chaos, does not have a meaningful negative effect in whatever comes out of The Donald’s sack of ill intentions against Mexico.