What do Mexicans want from Trump? Do we want to confront him, to negotiate with him, to adapt ourselves to his intentions, or some sort of combination of all those things?
The first thing we need to do is determine our nation’s best interest. While we are not sure about his nature or reach, our secretariat of the economy would advise something along the lines of “the priority is the defense of NAFTA.” Foreign Affairs will say “it’s imperative we protect Mexicans abroad.” National Defense will say “it’s important to safeguard national security and the borders, as compartmentalized forces and not as a coherent and consistent strategy.” How best to ensure synergy? Let’s take a look:
1. Diagnosis: How do we best assemble the separate parts of the Mexican state? A discussion needs to be had between the three powers of the Union, between civilians and the military, state and local governments, among businessmen, laborers, academics, churches, civic organizations, and Mexicans abroad. A top-down summons is not enough, it’s more apt to organize from the bottom up.
2. Negotiate: What does Trump want with Mexico? Knowing our interlocutor is crucial. What do we want to happen? We should put our agenda on the table. Trump is highly unpredictable, but there is some consistency in his conduct: He values know-how and is focused on compromise when it comes to business. He knows his strengths and makes it clear he will make use of them in the long run. He quite naturally sees to it that all aspects of his interactions defend his interests. He doesn’t fear nationalism; he considers it a logical path for every country to follow. What does he think with respect to Enrique Peña Nieto?
3. Be dignified: The fact that Slim and Videgaray have channels of communication to Trump’s world hasn’t resulted in us being treated any better.* If we maintain a dignified position, sustained by our own people, he will listen to us. If we yield to him, he will humiliate us and unilaterally impose his agenda upon us. It’s essential that we are clear and concise when it comes to non-negotiable issues and who our allies are in the United States.
4. The reason of State: It’s not about defending the status quo, but about converting our country into a habitable one. It’s not about collecting and defending treaties as a means to an end, but investing in our own people. It’s not about betting on generous concessions from our neighbors, but rather liberating Mexicans from the chains of ignorance and unproductivity.
A dialogue is already underway between Mexico and the necessary interlocutors. Juan Pablo Castañón is increasing his contacts in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here in Mexico and in the states. José Luis Gutiérrez is gathering binational Michoacanos in an effort to put our heads together and get on the same page. Alexandra Haas is calling together churches in the two nations on behalf of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination. Jesús Campos, as a member of FIDES,** is pushing for investment in the businesses of returned migrants to boost the economies in their communities of origin. Jill Anderson and Marggie Loredo, by way of the Office of Detainee Affairs, and Rebeca Vargas and Raúl Rodríguez Barocio via the U.S. Mexico Foundation and the Monterrey Institute of Technology, are promoting a binational dialogue between young leaders in the two countries. Sergio López Ayllón, the dean of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City, is calling for a strengthening of academic cooperation with universities in the U.S., and Blanca Heredia and Mónica Jacobo, also from CIDE, are promoting more inclusion of deportees in education and labor.
This political environment we are living in is unprecedented. We should take advantage of the uproar Trump triggered and imagine an inclusive country, open to the world, but sustained by our own creativity and innovation, with unparalleled alliances in this time of great uncertainty. I refuse to accept things as they are. If we always continue doing the same thing, we will only reap the same poor results that we’ve already come to be familiar with.
*Editor’s note: These names refer to Carlos Slim, a Mexican business magnate, investor and philanthropist, and Luis Videgaray, a Mexican politician who served as secretary of finance and public credit in the cabinet of Enrique Pena Nieto from 2012-2016.
**Editor’s note: FIDES stands for Federacion Interamericana de Empresas de Seguros, a Mexican insurance company.