Last year Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency with anti-Mexican statements. Trump said that Mexico was sending criminals, drug dealers and rapists to the United States. Repeatedly, Trump has said that he would get Mexico to pay for the border wall and has even told journalist Bob Woodward last week, “Mexico isn’t playing with us with war” when asked if he would be willing to go to war to get Mexico to pay for the wall.
For all the tough talk about the border wall, should Trump end up occupying the White House, he would soon enough figure out that Mexico is essentially a client state of the U.S. Increasingly, Mexico is economically, politically, and militarily subordinate to the U.S.
According to author and professor John Ackerman, “Peña’s [Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto] central objective since taking power on December 1, 2012, has been to completely dismantle the progressive legacy of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. He has drastically rolled back protections for labor, imposed neoliberal education reforms and moved to hand over the enormous oil and gas industry to transnational petroleum companies. He has also turned Mexico into a servile client of US foreign policy and national security” concerns.”
Like Peña Nieto, Trump has attacked the rights of workers. Hospitality workers in the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas have been trying to unionize, but the hotel management has launched a legal challenge to prevent the effort of workers to form a union. Trump’s actions as a hotel owner are in line with neoliberal policies being enacted in Mexico.
When it comes to border security, the U.S. has been instrumental in the implementation of Programa Frontera Sur, which was initiated in 2014 to stop the surge of Central American migrants coming to the US from Mexico’s southern border. When thousands of unaccompanied Central American children were arriving in droves to the U.S. in 2014, President Obama met with the Mexican president to develop proposals to address the migration issue. A few weeks after that meeting, Peña Nieto announced Programa Frontera Sur, although the White House has said that the plan was developed by Mexico and not as a result of President Obama’s meeting with the Mexican president.
A President Trump might realize that in terms of political optics, it’s easier to have Mexico enforce border security to the south than to force the Mexican government to pay for a more elaborate and complete fence. Mexico has already received $120 million for southern border enforcement from the State Department’s Mérida Initiative. The U.S. is already supporting Mexico’s implementation of punitive immigration policies. In essence, the U.S. is outsourcing some of its immigration enforcement and border security to Mexico, and Mexico obliges in doing the dirty work.
When it comes to combating drugs, the U.S. has influenced Mexico’s war on drugs with the Mérida Initiative, which is a “security cooperation agreement” between the two governments. It is estimated that 100,000 Mexicans have been killed since 2006 when former Mexican President Felipe Calderón initiated the war on drugs, and Peña Nieto has followed suit. Mexican citizens, journalists and even politicians have been victimized by the war. Congress has appropriated over $2 billion to fight drug cartels with the Mérida Initiative, but essentially, the U.S. has given money to Mexico to kill its citizens, while drugs continue to flow across the border. At this point, Trump has only expressed his hatred of Mexicans verbally, whereas the U.S. government has involved itself in a drug war across the border that has increased repression and has killed thousands.
President Trump would realize that there is already a program in place to repress Mexicans and kill them without accountability on the other side of the border, away from the U.S. media and concern by U.S. citizens. Furthermore, the Mérida Initiative has been criticized for human rights abuses, and the Mexican government has been characterized as being authoritarian. Given Trump’s fascist tendencies, he might find that he has more in common with the elites governing Mexico and executing policies that are influenced by Washington, D.C., than he cares to admit in front of his anti-immigrant supporters.
Finally, Donald Trump worships wealth and enjoys being ostentatious. In Mexico, the wealthiest one percent own 43 percent of the country’s wealth. The richest Mexicans have seen their wealth multiply over the past 20 years. In January, Trump said, “I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person,” when speaking at a rally in Iowa. Trump will find that he has more in common with the Mexican elite, who hoard their nation’s wealth, than he cares to admit.
While elites like former Mexican President Vicente Fox (also a former Coca-Cola executive) spout off about Trump and the border wall, they do not publicly show their disdain for members of the lower class who fled north. There is no movement among the wealthy in Mexico to care for its lower orders. On the contrary, the extremely rich are content to amass their wealth just like Trump, no matter the social costs.