John M. Ackerman
Donald Trump made good today on part of his promise of an immigration crackdown. Mexico and Mexicans, along with countries he fears could send “radical Islamic terrorists,” are his principal targets. The southern border wall will be built and the president will actively pressure and persecute local officials who protect undocumented immigrants.
It’s one thing to chastise local mayors. It is quite another to escalate tensions with a country of over 120 million with which you share a border of some 2,000 miles. But it turns out that Trump has a key Mexican accomplice to achieve his objectives: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump would not be able to do what he’s planning without the complicity of the Mexican government. If Mexico had authorities concerned about the welfare of their people, actions like Trump’s would be stopped cold.
Indeed, the foreign government that made the greatest contribution to Donald Trump’s victory was not Russia. It was Mexico. Vladimir Putin’s alleged covert meddling in the presidential election pales in comparison to Peña Nieto’s overt, public support for Trump. The Mexican leader is expected to cash in on that support on Tuesday, January 31st as he becomes the first Latin American head of state to meet with the new U.S. president in the White House.
Peña Nieto will speak publicly about protecting his people, but his real agenda is to negotiate impunity for his government as his administration winds to an end. In exchange for Trump ignoring the vast corruption scandals and systematic human rights violations south of the border, Peña Nieto will sell his country down the river by legitimizing Trump’s attacks on Mexico and Mexicans with his visit.
Trump and Peña Nieto have a great deal in common. The Mexican president already applies mass deportation policies, of the kind Trump promised, against Central Americans trying to cross Mexico towards the United States. Peña Nieto has also already begun construction, with U.S. help, of a high-technology equivalent of a “wall” on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala.
Like Trump, Peña Nieto has placed the corporate agenda front and center. He began his administration with a blitz of “structural reforms” that privatized the oil and electricity industries, rolled back protections for labor, and attacked public education. Freedom of expression and protest have also come under heavy fire. Marches are systematically repressed, social and political leaders jailed or assassinated, and journalists censored, fired or murdered. Federal security forces have also committed a series of heinous massacres. An extreme equivalent of the America’s Patriot Act, allowing for the permanent use of the military for law enforcement and the generalized suspension of habeas corpus, freedom of assembly, and other fundamental rights, is presently being discussed in the Mexican Congress.
Peña Nieto directly contributed to the success of the Trump campaign. On August 31st, 2016, the Mexican president organized what amounted to a royal reception for Trump at the Los Pinos Presidential Residence in Mexico City. The Republican candidate was struggling in the polls at the time, shortly after the Democratic National Convention had given Hillary Clinton a significant bump. One of Trump’s weakest spots was that he was perceived to be unable to handle the job of commander-in-chief or be fully respected by foreign leaders. His aggressive attacks on immigration had also created the impression that he was a racist...
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