The News
Friday 12 of April 2024

Veiled Message

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo,photo: Cuartoscuro/Galo Cañas
Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo,photo: Cuartoscuro/Galo Cañas
Guajardo also said that NAFTA renegotiations must show “clear benefits for Mexico”

Very much in the style of Mexican politics of never making a loud open threat, Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo went on a Milenio Television Monday night to send a veiled message to the U.S. secretaries of State and National Security Rex Tillerson and John Kelly, who will make a two day visit to Mexico starting Wednesday.

Guajardo said that in case the renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should fail, Mexico would stop cooperating with the U.S. on national security (meaning terrorism threats and drug interdiction) and immigration.

He did not say more but again, this is very much a show that President Enrique Peña Nieto is sending a warning to secretaries Tillerson and Kelly that current relations between the two nations are, to be mild about it, tense.

Besides cutting off the well-honed relationship that has thrived with the Mérida Initiative over the past 10 years– which has helped Mexico radically change its judicial court procedures – Guajardo, who will be the head NAFTA negotiator, is demanding that “Washington must admit that NAFTA has been beneficial” to the United States.

Needless to remember that President Donald Trump ran on a platform claiming NAFTA was “a disaster” and that the $60 billion trade deficit the United States is running with Mexico was enough reason to end the trade deal, which President Trump was supposed to do “in my first day in office” but now has budged into renegotiations, which according to Secretary Guajardo, will get underway “next summer.”

Guajardo warned that “it’s not possible to have people sit to negotiate an agreement that has existed for 23 years under the supposition that only one of the participants has benefited from it. If you start under that supposal, you will end up with a slanted process in this particular negotiation.”

Previous to this, Guajardo and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Luis Videgaray traveled to Toronto where they met with their Canadian counterparts to pave the way for a trilateral negotiation as Mexico plainly refuses to a bilateral one with the United States as it is a “North American three way agreement.”

“Mexico and Canada, and particularly Mexico, are not part of the manufacturing sector problems of the United States, but part of the solution to keep jobs in the United States,” Guajardo said.

However, “a total failure” in United States-Mexico negotiations and a cancellation of NAFTA will surely bring Mexican cooperation in security matters to a stop.

Guajardo is all for renegotiating NAFTA as “after 23 years we have to change NAFTA to be in tune with the new challenges our economies are facing. “

The secretary remembered that when NAFTA was negotiated, between 1990 and 1993, there was no internet and phone communications were stone-age. Worse still, customs systems were a different story as information technology was not yet in place. This alone and not politics should be a good reason for renegotiation, he said.

But the bilateral cooperation – with an aggressive president such as Donald Trump has been in his bashing of Mexico – has already built a diplomatic wall against his administration.

Guajardo also said that NAFTA renegotiations must show “clear benefits for Mexico” or the Mexican Senate will throw negotiations out the window.

But he added that “our political system will not admit a result that is not a victory for the three.”

But the veiled message as to future cooperation with U.S. security is at stake and this is something they will have to weigh heavily as they meet during their two-day visit to Mexico with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Interior Secretary (Segob) Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Treasury and Public Finance Secretary (SHCP) José Antonio Meade Kuribreña as well – and most important – with the secretaries of Defense and Navy Salvador Cienfuegos and Vidal Soberón.

Tillerson will also meet with U.S. Embassy personnel in Mexico City.

But no doubt, Guajardo was the medium of the not so veiled message as to what Mexican authorities want to hear from Tillerson and Kelly.