Now What Do We Do?

Daybreak in Mexico City was gray, cold and rainy this Wednesday — a fitting albeit involuntary setting for the shadows that cloud the hearts of the citizens of this country.

The chill that is sweeping the globe as a result of the unexpected and unsettling election of Donald Trump is felt more like pneumonia here. Of course, there are reasons for this. The man who chose to convert us, his neighbors, into the essence of all evil will now have the actual political and economic power to damage the lives of emigrants in a very pointed and effective way, and to disrupt the very foundations of Mexico’s precarious growth in the last five years. The free fall in the value of the peso in the last few hours is a kind of prognosis of the tragedy that could be unleashed.

What will we do with the millions of emigrants that Trump has threatened to kick out? The large part of the economically active population already works in the black market or in the criminal “labor force.” And we can’t ignore that thanks to the millions that have left for lack of opportunities, Mexico did not have to confront a past with greater political and economic tensions.

What do we do if, in effect, he imposes restrictions on remittances that emigrants send to their families, a number that today exceeds that of oil revenue? For the most endangered regions, this money is the difference between keeping oneself afloat and [descending into] extreme poverty.

What will happen with the real motor of the Mexican economy, the industrial plants so deeply connected to the North American market, which Trump has ranted and raved about time and time again? The automotive sector alone generates $52 million annually, more than three times the income from oil.

And what will a wall do to a Third World country like the northern border, with dozens of cities living symbiotically on either side of the line?

Mexico relied on the Free Trade Agreement in order to support its model of economic growth and, among other things, Trump relied on its undoing in order to get into the White House.

It’s impossible to predict how many of these threats will be carried out. There’s always a certain distance between the promises of a candidate during a campaign and the actions of a president in office. Even if he persists in his eagerness to see these things through, there is the process of checks and balances that slows down the will of a president and quells the scope of his measures.

The problem is that Donald Trump is absolutely unpredictable. The Oval Office has never housed a more volatile and potentially explosive guest. What’s more, he doesn’t seem to be committed to anyone, except to the promises he made to his supporters, because he came to power behind the back of the establishment — and that includes his own Republican Party.

The logic and common sense on which political interpretation used to operate was ripped to shreds this fateful Tuesday. Experts, professional politicians, surveys and all sorts of rules (unwritten but supported by tradition) about access to power in Washington were left destroyed by this man’s assault. What follows could be a similar path: an outlandish and unprecedented presidency, and a game of Russian roulette for Mexico. The fact that Republicans maintained control of Congress only serves to increase the possibility that some of his threats will ultimately come to fruition.

In short, only weeks remain to speculate upon risks and countermeasures, and to scrutinize the impending damage on many fronts that Trump’s rise to power produces (including, oddly enough, the benefit a devalued peso brings to the tourist industry).

But the first few hours after this unforeseen outcome will be marked by sadness, indignant surprise and worry. We can console ourselves by saying that the voters wanted a change and that their support for a man that demonized and insulted Mexicans is not personal. However, we can’t ignore that there is a trickle of hate in that support. Deep down it’s not Trump, but the many millions who bought his idea that their neighbor is the problem. That’s to say, us. It’s raining in Mexico, and what’s falling is something more than just cold autumn drops.

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