Disclaimer: This article reflects my opinion. Even though I invested quite some time to investigate on this topic and to highlight it from various points of view, the article shows definite subjective diction and a clear political positioning. To give you the opportunity to investigate some more, I always included my sources as links in this article. Translated Quotes have been translated freely by me.
Okay, by now we all more or less realised that it actually happened. Donald Trump will be the 45th US president. I also guess we all more or less realised that this is a decision that does not only influence the USA but a lot of other countries as well. Countries in Europe. Countries of Islamist terrorism, like Syria. And unfortunately Donald Trump made it very clear in his campaign that also Mexico will feel the impact. The difficult relationship between the USA and Mexico seems to exist since the conquest of the American continent. In my head I remember different episodes of the border problematic in pieces of literature, movies, art and a series: I remember watching Pocahontas when I was a little girl and being sad about people claiming other people’s land with violence. Okay, it might not be Mexico, but you get my point. In school I read an extract of the novel “Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle and was rather amused by the absurd name. Is it a curtain? Or a wall? Or what’s a border? Later, while watching Breaking Bad, I learned to be somehow scared of Mexico because obviously everyone was dealing drugs and killing people on a daily basis. Luckily I was smart enough not to take that impression too seriously. And last but not least, almost one and a half year ago I helped the Mexican theatre group Líneas de Sombra to stage their play “Amarillo”, named after the Texan city close to the border. In retrospective it’s quite interesting how many different perspectives I got to know on that topic. But one thing remained clear: the relationship between Mexico and the USA is beyond difficult.
Let’s have a look at the bigger picture
Because the USA is not the only country who elected an all but questionable president to run their country. Enrique Peña Nieto is Mexico’s president since 01 December 2012. On the official web page of the government it says that under Peña Nieto “[…] important progresses in the matter of infrastructure and public services, for example health care, were achieved. Also a restructuring of state finances has been brought to an end, with which it was possible to reduce public debts and increase investments for works and programmes, without the necessity of increasing taxes.” And indeed, it’s quite hard to find independent Mexican media that write critically about Peña Nieto. Mostly the newspapers only repeat what Peña Nieto says in press conferences and announcements and therefore work more as a publicity tool rather than a journalistic one. However, as soon as you look for information about Mexico’s president on the German website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, you can read within a few sentences how the Revolutionary Institutional Party PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institunional), that has lead Mexico for the more than 70 years, has been involved into scandals of corruption and manipulation of elections. After a short break in which non-PRI presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón governed Mexico, it was once again a PRI member that won the elections: Enrique Peña Nieto.
And that this man is far from being a fair and representative president show various problem areas
To start with, it’s a hell of a dangerous job to be a journalist in Mexico. Freedom of press is, if even, only a written word in this country. In theory you can study journalism, work at newspapers and investigate. In practice a lot of investigative journalists get intimidated, tortured or killed by doing so. The NGO Article 19, that fights for the right of freedom of expression and information, declares that every 27 hours a journalist in Mexico is being attacked (in whatever which way). Let’s move on to the drug war that exists in Mexico. I must admit, this topic is so widespread, that there are a million different theories and a million different opinions on what’s really going on and who is involved. A thing that is absolutely sure is that there are various drug cartels fighting each other and that it’s way beyond the question of money. It’s rather about demonstrating power and maintaining it. Furthermore, almost 90 percent of the comitted crimes are not prosecuted.
Keeping all that in mind, it is easily comprehensible why so many people have the dream to find refuge in the United States. Add up the incredible amount of poor people in this country and you see the vicious circle of joining a well paying drug cartel instead of mainting a life in pure poverty.
Yes, it’s a big problem that Mexico has, and in fact it’s not just one problem but various ones that are all somehow connected. I’m not saying it’s easy to solve. I just think that it’s not an option either to enforce borders, to build a wall and to send the people that dream of a better life back to their home country where they just fall back into the spiral of violence and poverty. What would happen if Trump really would stick to his words and would deport the over 11 million illegal immigrants in the US as well as build a wall between the two countries?
What could happen under Trump?
Mexican press, as usual, tends to make vague predictions of Mexico having to see it as “[…] a new chapter in the relationship between Mexico and US, that will implement changes, a challenge; but also an opportunity.” Empty words that don’t get to the point. However, they also hint that Mexico may be an economically quite solid terrain (in which sense ever and strongly depending on the prespective, I would say) but that it wouldn’t have the economic capacities to overcome all the measures Trump is willing to put in practice. That would cause a new wave of poverty, an enormously increased tension at the border, and the further and faster development of the spiral of violence connected to the drug cartels.
A short analysis
The BBC released a short analysis of what Trump can actually do as a president and what promises could turn out as loud barks without any consequences. In this analysis they state that it might be possible to launch a mass deportation, Mexican press even consider it probable. However a big challenge will be to afford this project as Trump would have to spend a lot more money on staff, police, infrastructure and office workers. And in order to do so, he’d either have to raise taxes or restructure spendings from one political priority to the other. Money doesn’t come from nowhere.
The first on his “10 Point Plan to Put America First” was the following: “Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one. Mexico will pay for the wall.” Written in red. With a link to a PDF on how exactly Trump plans to put this into practice. In this PDF he states that “Mexico is totally dependent on the United States as a release valve for its own poverty […]” and that either economic sanctions or high visa fees would make Mexico pay for the wall one way or the other. Probable? The BBC states that building the wall might not be impossible, however Trump has to take into account a variety of obstacles and conditions, including financial, social and also environmental factors.
Making America Great Again
After having taken a look at the situation in both Mexico and the US I guess we can all agree that there are difficult times ahead for both of the countries. It makes me sad to acknowledge that there are enough people in this world who prefer to spread hate instead of love and to clinge onto fear instead of opening up and taking new opportunities. It makes me sad to see that people are willing to defend a concept of nationalism on a land that hasn’t even been their land forever. It’s not a secret that the USA were built upon stolen lands, stolen from the indigenous people who were discriminated, robbed, killed and chased away. America is not a country. America is a continent, Mr. Trump. And I hope that when you’re talking about Making America Great Again, you keep that in mind. I personally don’t think you do. But I will always see humans as humans, no matter where they come from, who they love, which colour their skin is or what religion they believe in. And I hope there are enough people out there that think the same.