Rarely have we seen a Mexican government so pressured by the president of the United States and so acquiescent to his demands, like the one we see today − that is, the one we have seen since the threat to impose tariffs on Mexico forced our government to change its policy toward Central American migration.
Mexico went from offering a fraternal welcome to migrants to deploying the National Guard under the new policy of “they will not pass.” The battle of Culiacán* and the multi-homicide of the LeBarón family** caused an escalation in U.S. pressure, not only from President Donald Trump but also from the media and Congress, toward a new era of security demands in Mexico and a new era of "solutions” from the U.S., among which limited military intervention has been mentioned.
Mexico’s response seems entangled in its own weaknesses. It cannot play hardball against the threat of the tariff hike because of an economy so weak that Trump's announcement, alone, would have broken the precarious financial and exchange balances.
Mexico has been incapable of a response to U.S. alarms and threats related to security, simply because it has no solutions to offer: neither to retaliate for the defeat in Culiacán, which would call for striking the Sinaloa cartel, nor to solve the LeBarón multi-homicide, which would require investigation and territorial control over a geographically dense and complicated geographical area, interlaced with crime.
The government has no answers to the facts that have made the signs of a failed state reappear. Nor does it have a convincing security strategy to offer − a weakness added to the overall tactical weaknesses. The cost of U.S. pressure has been high for Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government and will continue to be so.
The expected approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in the coming weeks could offer great relief. But Trump's election campaign is on the horizon, with Mexico as one of his favorite discursive piñatas, which does not bode well. Once again, we are sleeping with the elephant, and the elephant is restless, because we have caught his attention twice in a year; he has turned to see us and turned back ....
*Translator’s note: In the state of Sinaloa on Oct. 17, Mexican military forces lost a battle when drug cartel gunmen freed the son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
**Translator’s note: Nine members of a family with U.S. and Mexican citizenship were murdered on Nov. 4, in the state of Sonora, allegedly by drug cartel members.