October 13, 2019 – 06:20 a.m.
"I am using Mexico to protect our border," said US President Donald Trump. The comment went unnoticed by millions of Americans. Although not for many Mexicans, who felt in Trump's words a flagrant violation of Mexico's sovereignty.
It was an offensive, arrogant and misplaced comment, but, perhaps, totally true. That September 26 had only been two days since the president of the House of Representatives of the United States, Nancy Pelosi, announced an investigation that could culminate in Trump's impeachment through a political trial. But amid accusations that it was a "witch hunt," Trump broke that phrase that hurt so much in Mexico.RELATED
"I want to thank Mexico," Trump added. “They have 27,000 soldiers in it. But think about how bad that is – think it right – that we have to use Mexico because the Democrats don't want to fix our defective immigration system. ”
Nearly 400,000 people have seen the video of Trump's statement that I uploaded to my Twitter account. For some, Trump's treatment of Mexico seemed humiliating. A friend does not tell another who is using it. And less in public. But the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, did not see it that way. "I have no problem of conscience," Amlo said in his traditional morning press conference. “We have nothing to be ashamed of, the sovereignty of Mexico is defended. At the same time, we don't want confrontation. ”
The non-confrontation and the total absence of Amlo in international events are two factors that are marking Mexico's foreign policy and its relationship with the United States. More specifically: the United States dictates what it wants to do and Mexico almost always accepts. It is, without a doubt, an unequal and threatening relationship for Mexicans. Trump warned that he would impose tariffs if Mexico did not cooperate on the immigration issue.
Mexico may not have paid for the Trump wall, but in practice it has become Trump's immigration police. And, what is worse, on the wall itself.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry announced triumphantly that the number of Central American immigrants who have crossed their territory fell by 56 percent between May and August. Why does Mexico force a Honduran or a Salvadoran to stay in Matamoros or Ciudad Juárez with his whole family when he really wants to go to the United States? The answer is clear and sad: because that is exactly what the United States government has asked López Obrador to do. Mexico is keeping tens of thousands of immigrants that Trump does not want. Mexico is the new exhaust valve in the United States.
The president of Mexico "has basically accepted all the terms and conditions" of the United States, Armando Santacruz, president of the Mexican United Civil Association against Crime, told me in an interview. “Yes, we are the wall. And the National Guard is now using many of its resources to keep immigrants away. ”
I don't know where Trump got the figure of 27,000 soldiers, but possibly he refers to the members of the National Guard of Mexico dedicated to protecting the border with Guatemala and preventing people from crossing the United States illegally from Central America. But the origin and mission of the National Guard was never to become the United States immigration agents in Mexican territory. In fact, the National Guard was created to reduce crime in Mexico. And so far, it has not yielded results.
But Mexico is not only using the National Guard to detain Central Americans who cross the country but has accepted that the United States return to its territory asylum seekers who are waiting for a response from the US authorities. Mexico suddenly turned into the waiting room in the United States.
The Trump administration has put enormous pressure on the Mexican economy to get what it wants. And it has done so at a time when financial indicators foreshadow a recession.
But this is a matter of sovereignty, dignity and respect for human rights. Especially when it comes to protecting people fleeing gangs, violence and extreme poverty. Mexico should never forget that for decades it was an immigrant exporting country. And now he must treat Central Americans with the same care and respect with which he always wanted Mexicans to be treated in the United States.
In the end, it's true: Trump is using Mexico. And Mexico, incomprehensibly, is being used. But that must change.
What can Mexico do? Not being the wall, not becoming the waiting room and not acting as the United States escape valve. Mexico must return to its dignified and historical tradition of protecting the persecuted and the most vulnerable on the planet, from the Spaniards who fled the Civil War to Central Americans escaping crime, gangs and hunger.
Mr. López Obrador, it is a mistake to bet on Trump. That they know, especially their exams. Do you really want to associate and support the policies of a president who suggested, according to a report from The New York Times, that his agents shoot immigrants at the border in the legs? Where is the indignation and protest of Mexico? Trump is on the wrong side of the story. And when the US president loses power, his accomplices and his partners, inside and outside the United States, will be judged with extreme harshness.
We still have time to do the right thing.