OPINION: Mexico 2019: Feliz Año? With Closed Border?

Dr. Gary Mounce is a political scientist and researcher in Latin American studies based in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas, he published the following article on riograndeguardian.com

Trump now threatens to close the entire southern border! Can you imagine the millions that would cost to try to implement?

AND the billions lost in trade and jobs?

So, no. Dios Mio, don’t let it happen! Instead, from me, a muy feliz año—a Happy New Year—we wish to Mexico.

We send these wishes but we also receive them FROM Mexico! We send and receive because we are very close neighbors. Because it is in the mutual interest of both countries, because it is the right thing to do—economically and culturally. This reality—a 2,000 mile long border, facilitating trade between our two fine countries – vs the reality of Trump’s threat to “close the southern border,” if he does not get billions for his noxious “wall.”

Oh, wait; he now calls the wall an” aesthetically pleasing slat iron fence;” sorry, my mistake. And this reality– an over 200 year old history as neighbors, facilitating two-way cultural and economic exchanges—vs Trump’s verbal and policy insults. Now, the pain is 30 percent taxes on automobiles, ten percent taxes on aluminum; earlier, Trump’s chant and that of his followers was “Mexicans are rapists.” Who, better than Trump can add insult to injury?

A wall? When immigration from Mexico is “negative” (more Mexicans flowing back to Mexico than coming in from Mexico)? Close the border? When Texas and the Rio Grande Valley depend so much on Mexican trade? Foolishness. Spurn Mexico? the second largest economy in Latin America (World Bank) and allow Russia and China to fill our shoes? My dear old Grandmother would have called that “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

The Mexican economy itself is doing relatively well. Retail sales and employment are “up.” The Federal Reserve Bank, Dallas, predicted a two percent growth rate for the economy in 2019 (Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, 24 Dec 18). The IMF calculates a 2.7 growth. True, crude oil exports are down and industrial production has diminished—temporarily, in part, due to Trump’s tariffs.

But manufacturing still accounts for 88 percent of Mexico’s exports and Mexico is still the U.S.’s third trading partner (we are their first). Like siblings, when one sister nation “catches cold,” the other “sneezes.” (Yes, from my Grandmother, again.) In fairness, part of their economic picture includes “uncertainty,” not only caused by the nativist (read: racist) attitudes and confusing proposals of the U.S. President but also by concerns with their own, non-traditional President, Andrés Manuél López Obrador (AMLO), who took the reins of government December 1st.

AMLO was, at one time, a possible “Mexican Trump,” given his former tendency to overstate the “facts.” His positions are now considered more stable by many moderate academic and business observers. He has quickly modified several previous policies and appointed a professional, experienced, mainstream cabinet. The truth is there isn’t time—in his one, six year term – or resources for most of his former rhetoric to be transformed into working policy; e.g., cutting the federal work force by half, massive aid to the poor.

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