Diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States reached heightened levels of embarrassment once again as the presidents of the two nations had another unfortunate meeting in Hamburg during the Group of 20 Summit. In Mexico, U.S. Homeland Security Department Secretary John Kelly met with Mexico’s Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong on Friday. The results of the two gatherings were diametrically opposed in content, tone and results.
Definitely the most dramatic of the two meetings was the one between Donald Trump and Enrique Peña Nieto, particularly during a press conference that began with an unexpected question by a lady reporter who asked Trump if he was still contemplating to have Mexico for his still-in-the-planning-stages wall along the U.S. side of the Rio Bravo or Grande.
“Absolutely,” responded Trump with a grin as stone-faced Peña Nieto watched emotionless but in silence really continued on the same track established after the first gathering between these two unlikely good neighbors since Trump’s visit to Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City.
Reactions worldwide came almost immediately after, not just from the throngs of foes Peña Nieto has to suffer through on a daily basis in the Mexican press, but also from European newspapers such as London’s The Guardian, who published the following commentary made by a not so well known economist and researcher.
The Guardian interviewed Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at the Center for Research and Economics Pedagogy (CIDE) in Mexico City, who said: “Trump broke the deal they had of not talking about the wall in public. And Peña Nieto should have called him, right there, to his face on. He didn’t. Trump is a bully, but Peña Nieto is a coward.”
And comments like this one poured down on President Peña Nieto, who stayed mum during 24 hours and it was not until Saturday in a press conference with the Mexican press in Hamburg that he put up a defense telling the Mexican press — faithfully reproduced by local Mexico City influential dailies El Universal, Excélsior and La Jornada — that the bilateral negotiations relationship between Mexico and the United States “cannot be branded by gossip.”
Gossip! Slapping Trump with building a wall through “gossip” as there have not been real moves to “build that wall” nor has the plan been backed by hard cash or even a plan to actually make Mexico pay for it as Trump has consistently and insistently claimed his “gossip.” That was Peña Nieto’s way of responding to Trump in Mexico.
In fact, readers of this column will recall that last Thursday that Peña Nieto was reportedly to be terrified of another face to face meeting with The Donald who of course, pretty much according to his badmouthing style, did it again just by answering “absolutely” and then cracking a cynical “bad boy” smile. As part of the public relations make the president look good cover up by the Mexican government, Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray claimed in a press conference that “Trump and Peña Nieto did not talk about the wall.” Absolutely!
But in defense of President Peña Nieto he is not so wrong in not responding to The Donald’s tirades. There is very much at stake in the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations that if all goes according to programs, will get underway at the end of August.
Good news for Peña Nieto was also the total opposition Trump received to his anti-free trade economic philosophy which was nixed by majority of those world leaders also questioning his rejection of the climate change accords approved by practically the rest of the world.
Back in Mexico, hands-on real agreements were made by secretaries Kelly and Osorio Chong on continuing negotiations in production, manufacturing, trafficking, sales and consumption of illegal natural and synthetic substances. Kelly, by the way in his Mexico Tour last week, was flown over poppy plantations and possible brown heroin fabrications points on the Guerrero Mountains.
They also made yet another agreement on stopping the flow of weaponry from the United States to Mexico which goes mainly to organized crime gangs.
Kelly and Osorio recognized the need for increased cooperation on weapons’ and drug smuggling both ways.
It was indeed a fine weekend to watch the news and wonder if both the United States and Mexican presidents came out unscathed from the diplomatic fray they did not engage in.
What can we say if not…absolutely not!