President Peña Nieto’s invitation for Donald Trump to visit Mexico in August offended 74% of Mexicans, according to polls. President Peña Nieto’s invitation for Donald Trump to visit Mexico in August offended 74% of Mexicans, according to polls. Reuters

How will Mexico deal with The Donald?

Not in a way that inspires hope given two recent decisions by Peña Nieto

What is Mexico’s plan for facing incoming U.S. president Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign included heated anti-Mexican rhetoric? How is the country’s government preparing for threatened changes to the U.S.-Mexico relationship in terms of policy, immigration and trade?

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If they’re any insight into Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s strategy for the coming years, two key decisions in this realm have been disconcerting to say the least.

The first, in August, was to invite then-candidate Donald Trump to Mexico, responding to his hostility with conciliatory gestures and good will.

The results were not good. Rather than moderating his views, Trump jumped on the occasion to imply that the Mexican president actually supported his positions. After the meeting with Peña Nieto, in a speech made later that night in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump told supporters:

“I’ve just landed having returned from a very important and special meeting with the president of Mexico, a man I like and respect very much . . . . We will build a great wall along the southern border. And Mexico will pay for the wall. One hundred per cent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for it. And they’re great people and great leaders but they’re going to pay for the wall.

“We will use the best technology, including above and below-ground sensors that’s the tunnels . . . . Towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels and keep out criminal cartels and Mexico you know that, will work with us. I really believe it. Mexico will work with us.”

This episode did not play out well in Mexico. According to the Reforma newspaper, 81% of Mexicans disagreed with Trump’s visit. The daily El Universal found that 74% of citizens felt offended that the government had invited him to Mexico.

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The stunt also ended badly for its mastermind, Luis Videgaray, a scandal-tainted confidante of president Peña Nieto since his days as governor of the State of Mexico (2005-2011); he was forced to resign his post as Secretary of Treasury.

The Mexican government’s second move to prepare for Trump, just a few days ago, was to sack Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruíz Massieu. Mexico’s top diplomat for only 16 months, she had recently shown herself reluctant to work with Trump. So, on the eve of the inauguration, Peña Nieto decided to put in her place none other than Luis Videgaray.

Given the new secretary’s admitted lack of international diplomacy experience, the press has speculated that his alleged relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is his main “qualification” for the job. Some commentators are also suggesting that this high-profile appointment reveals Videgaray as Peña Nieto’s preferred Institutional Revolutionary Party successor for the presidency in 2018.

So what’s going on here? And what does it mean for Mexico, just days away from four years of President Donald Trump?

To start with, it shows that the Mexican government does not, for whatever reason, find it necessary to correct its course or to recruit new personnel in order to regain some of the credibility it has lost both nationally and internationally.

In this delicate moment, when Mexico will require the talent and experience of the best men and women its foreign service has to offer, the president’s most recent appointment leaves no doubt: Luis Videgaray is Mexico’s response to Donald Trump. The man is the policy.

Here the government has squandered an opportunity to take diplomatic advantage of the Mexican people’s disregard for Trump to strengthen the relative power of Los Pinos, Mexico’s presidential palace, vis-a-vis the White House.

As Robert Putnam outlined in his classic study on diplomacy, domestic and international politics can interact as a “two-level game.” Just as external events and pressures can help impel national policies, governments can also leverage internal pressure to strengthen their stance in foreign negotiations.

That is, Peña Nieto could have used Mexicans’ repudiation of Trump to place hard and very credible limits on what Mexico will – and won’t – accept from the U.S. going forward. But he didn’t do it. Picking a figure so friendly toward his American counterpart, and so disliked at home, Mexico’s president missed his chance to put domestic discontent to good use. Instead, he made the government even more vulnerable.

Finally, there’s the issue of the so-called “constituencies of foreign policy.” In reiterating his position of collaborating instead of confronting, Peña Nieto turned his back on a multitude of potential American allies of Mexico’s cause.

Numerous American churches, cities and universities have declared that they will defend undocumented immigrants. There are border states whose economies are deeply integrated with Mexico’s and industries that would collapse without the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). And hundreds of communities and hometown associations send remittances to Mexico.

Peña Nieto’s government could coordinate with these actors to look after their shared interests and present a united front against Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-NAFTA agenda.

Instead of building relationships and alliances, however, Peña Nieto’s administration seems determined to isolate itself – to give up. It’s as if the only constituency for Mexican foreign policy were one person: The Donald.

The threat that Trump represents to Mexico is, or could be, an extraordinary platform for demonstrating political leadership. But based on the disquieting decisions that President Peña Nieto has made thus far, it is impossible not to ask: who is Mexico’s government working for?The Conversation

The ConversationCarlos Bravo Regidor is an associate professor at CIDE, the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics, a social sciences teaching and research center in Mexico City. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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  • K. Chris C.

    Going to be interesting to watch this play out. The US tyranny only has belligerence to offer, while China has money. The US tyranny has not been, and will not be, too keen on a cozier Chinese and Mexican relationship, and the US tyranny wants the oil.

    The Khazarian fifth-column that controls the US tyranny won’t be pleased either, as they desire to move Mexico, and their oil, closer to Europe.

    The Mexican people will, as always, bear the brunt of the storm.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

    • Happygirl

      Everything you write is frigging nuts…the hate you feel for your homeland comes thru loud and clear with every comment. And that stupid ending- An American citizen, not US subject , just adds to the preception of a unbalanced individual. If you hate it so much give up your American citizenship.
      You do know that the USA is now selfsufficient when it comes to oil (facking) and Canada can supply oil and gas to the USA into the next century. China has won the drilling rights to two oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico – China needs the oil not the USA. You are right that it is going to be interesting – because Trump has no interest in having good relations with Mexico. If he goes ahead with scraping the Free Trade deal, deporting illegal Mexicans, building his wall, taxing Mexican imports and money moving from the USA to Mexico…he will destabilize the Mexican economy, the government will fall and you may find yourself back in the USA – and dealing with its tyranny first hand.

      • K. Chris C.

        ” If he goes ahead with scraping the Free Trade deal, deporting illegal Mexicans, building his wall, taxing Mexi
        can imports and money moving from the USA to Mexico…he will destabilize the Mexican economy, the government will fall…”

        Yup, that’s most likely their, Trump’s handlers and puppet masters’, plan. Destabilize so as to push more slave labor into the clutches of the US tyranny, and then comes “Operation Mexican Freedom.” China mostly, and Europe, are the wildcards.

        An American citizen, not US subject.

        • Happygirl

          Like I said you are nuts.

          • gypsyken

            “You are nuts” does not reflect reason or rational thinking, but it is what I would expect from a supporter of Il Duce Trump, who is scheduled to become the illegitimate president of the U.S. next week. The Washington Post has compiled from Il Duce’s speeches, etc., a list of 282 promises that he has made, including “I will give you everything.” The list can be read at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/i-will-give-you-everything-here-are-282-of-donald-trumps-campaign-promises/2016/11/24/01160678-b0f9-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1. Readers can judge from the list Il Duce’s capacity for rational thinking.. Every U.S. voter, most of whom did not vote for Il Duce, should read it. Moreover, a new and respected poll this week has found that a majority of Americans now have a negative view of Il Duce, whose supporters are in the minority. Voters now have a less favorable opinion of il Duce than they did before the election: https: //www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/10/this-new-poll-has-all-kinds-of-bad-news-for-donald-trump/?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1. Demonstrations of opposition to Il Duce are at historic levels; they will peak, but not end, on Inauguration Day (assuming it will take place, as we are awaiting further word on Il Duce’s Russian connection and his escapades there) and the following day, with its massive Women’s Marches nationwide. (For the Steele dossier about what Russia has on, and has done for, Il Duce, go to https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html.)

    • pedrochapala

      what the fekk is a khazarian fifth column and are there 4 columns before that and any after that ya pinche pendejo anti jewish lunatic.

      and as long as yer an excited states citizen yer also a subject of same and you have also made yerself a subject of disdain with yer idiotic rambling ya mothfekking troll.

  • Harley Hadlow

    So how do many of us share Mexico’s concern about Trump, after all he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and only one because of major gerrymandering of districts in a number of states. And many of us are planning to retire in Mexico and get away from Trump as he seems determined to destroy this country, its social security and medical promises including medicare and medical as well as the ACA. We love Mexico and we are not alone as Americans who feel really let down by our government and what our future forbodes.

  • Henry Wilson

    until this last week’s “performance” i was impressed with how epn was handling the mercurial trump, unlike his absolutely totally insane predecessor fox. but then he blew it. mexico cannot survive without the girngos. sorry mexico but its a fact. economically the mexican economy is a house of cards kept upright solely by the big bad hated yanquis of the north. hint: trump is an actor. a blowhard. suck up to him or ignore him but dont get in his face. play kissie face and make nice and mexico will come out of the next four years just fine…perhaps even better than under obama.

  • KLF

    The decades of disrespect of US sovereignty by the Mexican people has come home to roost. The American taxpayer citizen grew weary, unfortunately Trump is the result. Respect others and they will respect you.

  • rob smith

    I notice Trump has already made two enemies even before taking office.
    The “intelligence” community.
    History shows you don’t want to p**s off these people. You may for example find your security detail disappears just as your motorcade enters Daley plaza.

    The Press
    I am quite sure the “gentleman” of the press are sharpening their swords as we speak.
    I an old enough to recall VP Spiro Agnew ‘s “war on the press”
    Nixon was then impeached by you guessed it the press.
    Trumps trade policies are from a well worn playbook. and have never worked.
    I wonder how Americans will feel when the price of a s*it box low end Ford will sky rocket, when it is assembled by $60 hr +benefits US union worker rather than a slave wage Mexican worker.

  • alance

    The Mexican government is working for the globalists who are meeting this week at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

  • todd jones

    Dear Mexican People,

    Please reassure me that Peña Nieto will stand up to our President and call his bluff on the 20% tariff. If he doesn’t, he’s toast as a politician, yes?

    Signed, a concerned neighbor in America

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