Salinas speaks with Paola Rojas of Televisa. Salinas speaks with Paola Rojas of Televisa.

Salinas on Trump: ‘enormous ignorance’

Former president offers scathing criticism about US leader

Former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari has come out with a scathing verbal attack against United States President Donald Trump, declaring that he has shown enormous ignorance about Mexico and displayed racist attitudes towards the country.

In an interview with the broadcaster Televisa, Salinas — president from 1988 to 1994 — also said that the views Trump holds about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), currently subject to a process of renegotiation, are misguided.

“It’s very regrettable that he blames the treaty for the problem of the disappearance of companies in the United States when that was [already] happening in the ‘60s,” Salinas said.

“And also, he says that the commercial surplus we have today is the fault of NAFTA when in fact they don’t have a treaty with China and [China] has a surplus [with the U.S.] 10 times the size of Mexico’s. There is ignorance on basic issues of the economy and that ignorance is causing bad policy,” he added.

While Salinas’ main objective was to promote his new book about the history of the almost 24-year-old trilateral agreement, his comments about the personal qualities he sees in Trump and the president’s rhetoric about Mexico were what garnered most attention.

“[Trump] is a man that surprised the world and even the United State itself by winning the presidential election in his country and he has shown that he has an enormous ignorance about Mexico [and] on occasions even racist attitudes,” the ex-president said.

Salinas himself is also a highly controversial — and widely loathed — political figure, having won the presidency amid claims of fraud while he has also been blamed for the peso crisis which took hold in the early days of his successor’s term.

The former president, who was in office when NAFTA came into effect on January 1, 1994, also touched on another controversial issue that has only heightened in sensitivity since President Trump took office.

“[On] the migration issue, the ideal would have been for it to be part of the treaty or a simultaneous treaty. I suggested it to president [George H.W.] Bush during the negotiation that we carried out and his response was ‘I have no chance of passing two big treaties in the United States Congress,’” Salinas said.

Salinas argued that migration is a “natural corollary of an economic relationship with open market characteristics” and that due to its aging population, the United States “needs us but doesn’t understand it.”

Trump’s pledge to build a border wall between the two countries, a decision to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or “Dreamers” policy and hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration and so-called sanctuary cities have all been controversial binational issues that have harmed the bilateral relationship.

Salinas added that Trump is more concerned about appeasing his electoral base in order to allow the Republican Party to maintain control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections and eventually help him to win reelection.

He also lamented that the relationship between the two countries, that in his experience was based on respect, had been damaged by Trump’s arrival in the White House.

“I had a relationship with two presidents of the United States, George Bush senior and Bill Clinton, and I encountered great politicians in each one of them . . . [both were] very respectful with Mexico and it’s regrettable that doesn’t seem to be the situation now,” he said.

Source: Televisa (sp)

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