jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2016

"Donald Trump's Latin American Double: Enrique Peña Nieto" (Kings College Politics & Society, November, 2016)

John M. Ackerman

Donald Trump´s visit to Mexico City with President Enrique Peña Nieto on August 31st, 2016, in the heat of the presidential election campaign, left many people speechless. How was it possible that the President of a Nation which has been systematically vilified and insulted by the Republican presidential candidate could have welcomed its attacker with open arms?

Even more surprising was the fact that Peña Nieto and Trump seemed to get along so well. During their joint press conference in Mexico City, Peña Nieto applauded their “fundamental agreements” on policy and offered to work with the Republican candidate to “strengthen” both the US-Mexico and the Mexico-Guatemala borders. During his turn at the microphone, Trump said Peña Nieto was his “friend”. Later, during his immigration speech in Arizona later that day, the Republican candidate called Peña Nieto a “wonderful president”, just as he simultaneously ratified his promise to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall”.

A few weeks earlier, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Urban, had publicly endorsed Trump´s candidacy. Peña Nieto did not go as far as Urban in his own public statements, but actions speak louder than words. By giving the Republican candidate the opportunity simultaneously to appear to be a statesman, as well as supposedly respectful of at least some Mexicans, Peña Nieto gave Trump just the helping hand he needed to bounce back in the polls.

Peña Nieto supposedly is not a nativist, neo-fascist like Trump or Urban. From the first day he took office in December of 2012, the Mexican President has been hailed by the international press as the example of a well-behaved neoliberal free-trader. Time magazine named him one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World,” claiming that he “combines Reagan’s charisma with Obama’s intellect and Clinton’s political skills.” The Financial Times raved that with the death of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Peña Nieto may now take up the torch of Latin American leadership and revive the “Washington Consensus”. Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times, called Mexico the “Comeback Kid” under Peña Nieto.

How is it possible that a neo-fascist like Trump and a neoliberal like Peña Nieto get along so well? For instance, how can they possibly see eye-to-eye on key policy issues like the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?...