Trump backs Mexico into a corner

Peña Nieto's first actions since Trump´s election have been conciliatory—some might say servile.
Peña Nieto’s first actions since Trump´s election have been conciliatory—some might say servile.

By John M. Ackerman / Politico

On Barack Obama’s first visit to Mexico as president in 2009, thousands of people spontaneously swarmed onto Mexico City’s grand Reforma Avenue to see whether they could get a peek at the 44th president of the United States as he passed by. Despite a long history of conflict between the two countries, the Mexican people were highly optimistic about the future of binational relations and believed in Obama’s message of hope and renovation.

In contrast, after the events of this past week, it will be difficult for Donald Trump to ever set foot on Mexican soil. Mexicans are a proud and dignified people and do not take well to being humiliated in public. Indeed, in response to the constant insults and lack of respect coming out of the new U.S. administration, Mexican citizen groups already have started to plan boycotts of Citibank, Walmart and other U.S. corporations. The newspapers and TV shows are full of biting commentary about Trump’s intolerant and aggressive behavior. At a rally a couple of weeks ago, one of the protesters even burned an American flag, something entirely unprecedented for more than a century in Mexico.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/trump-backs-mexico-into-a-corner-214700

President Trump and Mexican president speak by phone amid crisis in relations

President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico with Donald J. Trump in August, when Mr. Trump visited the country during the presidential campaign.
President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico with Donald J. Trump in August, when Mr. Trump visited the country during the presidential campaign.

By Joshua Partlow and William Branigin / Washington Post

Amid one of the worst crises in U.S.-Mexico relations in years, President Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke by phone Friday morning for about an hour, a conversation that Trump said was “very, very friendly” but one he suggested was a prelude to tough negotiations over what he described as an unfair trade relationship.

“We had a very good call,” Trump said in a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people.” But he quickly added that “Mexico has outnegotiated us and beat us to a pulp. They’ve made us look foolish.”

He said his talk with Peña Nieto “lasted for about an hour” and that “we are going to be working on a fair relationship, a new relationship.”

Although Trump said that “it was a very, very friendly call,” he also stressed that “we are going to be renegotiating our trade deals.” He said negotiations with Mexico will take place “over the coming months” to ensure that the United States does not “lose” on trade.

Peña Nieto’s office said the two leaders had a “constructive and productive conversation” about the bilateral relationship, including the issue about the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, the importance of “friendship” between the two countries, “and the need of our countries to work together to stop drug trafficking and the flow of illegal weapons.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mexico-digs-in-and-trump-lashes-back-as-border-wall-standoff-deepens/2017/01/27/7279c196-e41c-11e6-a419-eefe8eff0835_story.html?utm_term=.70195db436bf

DONALD TRUMP BLOWS UP THE U.S.-MEXICO RELATIONSHIP

The timing of President Trump’s executive orders left Mexican diplomats furious. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
The timing of President Trump’s executive orders left Mexican diplomats furious.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

By Ryan Lizza / The New Yorker

Last Saturday, in his first public announcement from the White House, Sean Spicer, President Trump’s press secretary, noted that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto would visit Trump on Jan.31st for a meeting “on trade, immigration, and security.” (This was after Spicer finished berating the press for accurately reporting on the relatively small crowd size at Trump’s Inauguration.)

This week, Peña Nieto dispatched several ministers to lay the groundwork for the summit, including Luis Videgaray, his new secretary of foreign affairs. Last fall, Videgaray, then the finance minister, and one of the few people in Peña Nieto’s administration with links to the Trump campaign, recommended that Peña Nieto invite Trump to Mexico. Trump’s visit became such an embarrassment to the unpopular Mexican government that Peña Nieto was forced to sack Videgaray.

But, after Trump won, Videgaray was welcomed back into the government in his current role. “He was the only one who had diplomatic ties to the Trump Administration,” an official at the Mexican Embassy noted.

On Wednesday, when Videgaray and his colleagues came to the White House for a day of meetings with Jared Kushner and other senior Trump aides, Trump signed one executive order calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and another greatly expanding the categories of undocumented immigrants who will be prioritized for deportation. The Embassy official said the team of diplomats at the White House was furious and despondent at the timing. “They were like, ‘What the fuck are we going to negotiate?’ ” the official said. “ ‘You’ve done the job. What are we going to negotiate if you’ve signed this? What’s wrong with you?’ ”

Peña Nieto made an emotional televised statement to his country on Wednesday evening condemning Trump’s executive orders. “Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said. He promised to turn Mexico’s fifty consulates in the United States into “true ramparts in defense of migrant rights.”

The relationship between the two leaders completely ruptured. In one of his first instances of Twitter diplomacy as President, Trump wrote on Thursday morning, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Not surprisingly, Peña Nieto cancelled.

This depressing episode confirms several of the worst fears about Trump. The first is that he is not a good negotiator. Rather than waiting a week before he issued his executive orders on immigration, Trump signed them at a moment that maximally embarrassed Videgaray, the Mexican official who is the most sympathetic to him. The moves left the unpopular Peña Nieto with no choice but to cancel next week’s visit, and poisoned the relationship with one of America’s closest allies and our third-largest trading partner.

Furthermore, it showed that with his impulsive use of Twitter to make foreign-policy statements, Trump is turning American diplomacy into a series of personal relationships unguided by strategy or forethought.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-blows-up-the-u-s-mexico-relationship

Slim says Mexico’s ready for Trump talks

Reuters – Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said on Friday a united Mexico was ready to help the government negotiate with Donald Trump, and tried to calm fears in his country about what the U.S. president’s policies would mean for its economy. In a rare news conference by the generally media-shy mogul, Slim said Mexico needed to negotiate from a position of strength, noting that Trump, who he called a “great negotiator,” represented a major change in how politics was conducted.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-slim-idUSKBN15B25Q

Trump proposals spark protests, boycotts

Time – A digital image of a clenched fist bathed in the red, white and green of Mexico’s flag and decorated with the nation’s emblematic eagle and “Consumers, to the Shout of War” is part of a slew of messages, memes and videos that have been spreading in Mexico in recent days as President Donald Trump pushes for a border wall, deportations and punishing new trade rules. Others messages call for specific boycotts of U.S. companies in Mexico, including McDonalds, Walmart and Coca-Cola. One of the most heavily trending hashtags is #AdiosStarbucks, or “Goodbye Starbucks,” referring to the Seattle company which has opened hundreds of coffee houses in Mexico.

http://time.com/4651464/mexico-donald-trump-boycott-protests/

Videgaray says paying for wall “totally unacceptable”

CNN – Mexico’s top diplomat has said the suggestion that his government would pay for President Donald Trump’s planned border wall was “totally unacceptable,” leading to the cancellation of the two countries’ leaders’ first meeting. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told journalists Thursday that Mexico respected the US’ prerogative to protect its borders but that Mexico “simply cannot accept the concept of a neighbor paying for your wall.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/mexico-foreign-minister-trump-comments/

As Haitians strain border, pressure builds for Mexico to act

NYT – Even before President Trump decided to build the wall, Tijuana already was overwhelmed. So many Haitian migrants, traveling across the Americas, began arriving last year with hopes of crossing into the United States that churches, community halls, after-school programs, rehabilitation centers and private citizens have opened their doors to house, feed and clothe them. Now, some officials and advocates worry that Trump’s plan could spur immigration crises in towns and cities all along the border and, indeed, throughout Mexico.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/world/americas/mexico-border-tijuana-migrants-haitians-trump-wall.html

Yanking $320 million in aid to Mexico could backfire

USAToday – The United States directs an average of $320 million worth of aid a year to Mexico for various programs, all of which appear to be targets for President Trump as he looks for ways to pay for the proposed border wall with our southern neighbor. But specialists say the aid won’t make for much of a bargaining chip as he tries to goad Mexico into footing the bill for the wall, and in fact, yanking the aid could backfire entirely.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/26/us-aid-320-million-mexico-wall-trump-specialists-backfire/97103024/

The dangers of a U.S.-Mexico trade war

WSJ – The situation between President Donald Trump and Mexico could get rather ugly. A recession in Mexico can backfire for the US – including bringing more of what the “great wall” is trying to prevent. Moreover, the supply chain running through Mexico’s factories is incredibly complex and could result in disruptions and price increases in unexpected areas. US refineries also will lose their key customer.

http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyshot/2017/01/27/wsjs-daily-shot-the-dangers-of-a-us-mexico-trade-war/

U.S. banks cut exposure to Mexico

CNBC – Whether by foresight or mere good fortune, U.S. banks have reduced their exposure to Mexico just as tension between the two countries is heating up. Over a two-year period, the financial institutions cut their dealings with Mexico by 13 percent, according to consulting and analysis firm SNL Financial. The 11 U.S. banks with the most Mexico exposure have a combined $96 billion in cross-border claims.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/26/just-in-time-us-banks-slash-exposure-to-mexico.html

Conan O’Brien to broadcast one show in Mexico

Huff Post – Conan O’Brien is going south of the border in a bid to build bridges. The late night TV host is relocating his show to Mexico for a special one-off episode. “With all of this week’s negative news about the relationship between the United States and Mexico, I thought I would try and do something positive,” O’Brien said Thursday, in reference to simmering tensions between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and President Donald Trump over the latter’s border wall plan.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/conan-obrien-mexico-donald-trump_us_588af703e4b0230ce61b2f20

Chinese giant buys U.S. firm that does Mexico money transfers

CNN – Ant Financial, a related company of Alibaba, the global conglomerate backed by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, is buying MoneyGram for $880 million. The deal could be one of the first tests of how serious President Donald Trump is about cracking down on money transfers, also known as remittances, to Mexico.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/26/investing/moneygram-ant-financial-jack-ma-remittances/

Melania Trump graces cover of Vanity Fair Mexico

Melania on Vanity FairEl Pais – The first lady of the United States, Melania Trump occupies the cover of the next edition of the magazine Vanity Fair Mexico. The 46-year-old model and businesswoman, born in Slovenia in 1970, will appear on the front page of the February publication with a plateful of jewelry wrapped around a fork as if she were eating pasta.

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2017/01/27/mexico/1485478576_104229.html

Diputado claims Chapo’s $16 billion belongs to Mexico

Fox News – Members of the main opposition force in Mexico are demanding the federal government take steps to claim the entirety of assets from drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, recently extradited to the United States. Congressman Jorge Ramos Hernández claimed Guzman’s fortune amounts to at least $16 billion and must be ceded to Mexico to restore the damages caused by the trafficker’s illicit activities.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/01/26/el-chapo-guzmans-16b-in-assets-belong-to-mexico-congressman-claims.html

White House press secretary says border wall will be funded by 20 percent import tax on Mexican goods

Nafta has allowed trade between the neighbors to mushroom. Every day, goods valued at $1.4 billion cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nafta has allowed trade between the neighbors to mushroom. Every day, goods valued at $1.4 billion cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

By Joshua Partlow / Washington Post

President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday called off a trip to Washington, after President Trump launched his plan to construct a border wall and insisted he would stick Mexico with the bill. The incident opened one of the most serious rifts in memory between the United States and its southern neighbor.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer added a stunning new detail about the proposed wall project later Thursday, saying that Trump intended to pay for it by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico.

Peña Nieto had been scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday to discuss immigration, trade and drug-war cooperation. He called off the visit after Trump tweeted that it would be “better to cancel the upcoming meeting” if Mexico was unwilling to pay for the wall.

Trump’s moves have rekindled old resentments in Mexico, a country that during its history has often felt bullied and threatened by its wealthier, more powerful neighbor. The legacy of heavy-handed U.S. behavior — which includes invasions and the seizure of significant Mexican lands — has mostly been played down by a generation of Mexican leaders who have pursued pragmatic policies and mutual economic interests with both Republican and Democratic U.S. administrations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mexican-president-cancels-visit-to-washington-as-tensions-with-trump-administration-intensify/2017/01/26/ececc3da-e3d9-11e6-a419-eefe8eff0835_story.html

Mexican president Pena Nieto cancels Trump meeting in Washington

 Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday scrapped a planned summit with Donald Trump in the face of insistent tweets from the U.S. president demanding Mexico pay for a border wall.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday scrapped a planned summit with Donald Trump in the face of insistent tweets from the U.S. president demanding Mexico pay for a border wall.

By Louis Nelson

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday called off his planned trip to Washington, after President Donald Trump moved forward with his plan for a long-promised border wall and needled his southern neighbor about forcing Mexico to pay for it.

Trump, however, claims it was a mutual decision.

“I’ve said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall. And I’ve made that clear to the government of Mexico,” Trump said in remarks Thursday to congressional Republicans at a retreat in Philadelphia. “To that end, the president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”

The president’s statement that the decision to cancel had been mutual came hours after Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter that it had been his decision to call off the White House trip. “This morning we told the White House we won’t attend next Tuesday’s meeting with @POTUS,” Peña Nieto tweeted in a series of posts. “Mexico reiterates its will to work with the US to achieve agreements for both of us.”

The posts from Peña Nieto followed two from Trump earlier Thursday morning. They warned that if Peña Nieto was steadfast in his promise that his nation won’t pay for a wall along America’s southern border, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” between the two leaders.

The cancellation represented an escalation of the already simmering tension between the Trump administration and its Mexican counterpart and comes on the eve of Trump’s first meeting with a foreign leader, British Prime Minister Theresa May. Trump’s promise of a White House driven by an “America First” ethos has worried foreign leaders around the globe, but perhaps nowhere more than in Mexico, a nation with which Trump has pledged to get tough.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-mexico-border-wall-warning-234211

Trump warns Mexico: Pay for the wall or cancel the meeting

The warning, posted by President Donald Trump on Twitter Thursday morning, comes as tensions between the U.S. and its southern neighbor increase. (Getty)
The warning, posted by President Donald Trump on Twitter Thursday morning, comes as tensions between the U.S. and its southern neighbor increase. (Getty)

By Louis Nelson / Politico

President Donald Trump said Thursday that if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is steadfast in his promise that his nation won’t pay for a wall along America’s southern border, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” between the two leaders.

The warning, posted by Trump on Twitter Thursday morning, comes as tensions between the U.S. and its southern neighbor grow even more strained beneath the weight of the president’s campaign promises to get tough with Mexico on trade and immigration.

“The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost,” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into multiple posts. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

Trump kicked off the process of constructing his long-promised border wall on Wednesday, signing an executive order to begin fulfilling one of the very first campaign promises he made. The president promised throughout his campaign that Mexico would pay for a “great wall” on the U.S. border, but since winning the White House, he has begun suggesting that U.S. taxpayers would front the money for the wall for expediency’s sake but will be reimbursed by the Mexican government.

Trump insisted in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC News that Mexico will pay, albeit “perhaps a complicated form.” More broadly, Trump has railed against Mexico, suggesting that its leaders have taken advantage of the U.S. via the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the president has vowed to either renegotiate or back out of entirely.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-mexico-border-wall-warning-234211

Nearly 700 miles of border fence already exist

ABC – President Donald Trump’s longtime campaign promise of building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border could be one step closer to fruition after he signed an executive order announcing a series of steps to deter “illegal immigration from Central America.”

But some 700 miles of border fencing had already been completed along the country’s nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico, much of it during Barack Obama’s presidency, as part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by George W. Bush.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/700-miles-fencing-us-mexico-border-exist/story?id=45045054

Mexico’s weapons if Trump declares war on Nafta

NYT – How could Mexico inflict the most damage on the United States? In normal times this question would not be top of mind for Mexican policy makers. Mexican governments over the last quarter-century have consistently pushed back against the nation’s historical resentment toward the United States, hoping to build a more cooperative relationship with its overbearing northern neighbor.

But these aren’t normal times. As President Trump prepares the opening gambit in his project to either renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or pull out, Mexico’s most important strategic goal is narrowing to one word: deterrence.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/business/economy/nafta-mexico-free-trade.html?_r=0