Second Round, the Surrender

Just call bread, bread and wine, wine.

That is the old Spanish saying for calling things by their name, which allows us to show that, as a starting point in the conversations that high-level representatives from Mexican and their counterparts in the United States are conducting to stop the increase in tariffs on Monday, there has been no negotiation, as has been maintained, but instead a lobbying job by Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard to convince President Donald Trump that the Mexican government wants to comply with his demands on migration issues.

So, if what we are witnessing is the Mexican capitulation on migration issues, what he should be looking for are the terms of surrender to keep Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador from being humiliated.

There is no doubt, starting with the reading of the public declarations and the information that is coming out of Washington, that there was never any negotiation on tariffs, but instead a Mexican surrender of its migration policy’s effects. Even with that, with Mexico’s susceptibility to contradicting itself, the pressure on Ebrard keeps increasing.

White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp told the AP yesterday: “It looks like we’re moving toward this path of tariffs because what we’ve seen so far is the Mexicans, what they’re proposing, is simply not enough.”

President Trump spoke to the White House press that was accompanying him in Europe, and, from the Irish airport in Shannon, said, “We’ll see what happens, but something pretty dramatic could happen.” It has already happened.

The New York Times revealed that, although Mexico had firmly opposed being a “safe third country” to serve as a guesthouse for migrants waiting for the United States to grant them asylum, the United States government’s justification was that it expected the migrants not to reach its southern border and to remain living in Mexico, but that collided with reality: the accelerating increase in undocumented migration toward that country.

At the Wednesday meeting in the White House, Ebrard, chief opponent of that concept, reversed himself. He said that his government was ready to strengthen the border with Guatemala and promised Vice President Mike Pence and the secretary of state of the United States, Mike Pompeo, that Mexico would fight the international crime of human trafficking and that Mexico would offer asylum to thousands of Central Americans so that they would not go to the United States. Pathetic.

The Washington Post added details about the Mexican surrender. Ebrard promised that Mexico would send 6,000 soldiers from the National Guard to the border region with Guatemala and that as part of its agreement to become a “safe third country,” Mexico would take deported Guatemalans, with no maximum, who arrived to request asylum in the United States.

At the same time, the Hondurans and Salvadorans detained in the United States will be sent to Guatemala, in accordance with a separate negotiation with that government. Guatemala and Honduras have been complaining that the migration policy of Mexican President López Obrador affects them as well, destabilizing their countries by offering humanitarian visas and express passage, as well as security from the Federal Police until crossing the northern border. It is pathetic, on both sides. The Lopez Obradorian policy created problems and quarrels for everybody.

The Mexican government sent a team of lawyers to Washington, and they met with Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, to analyze the legal terms under which Mexico could be a “safe third country.”

Discussion about that concept, according to the United States, is no longer on the agenda, because it has been accepted. In conceptual terms, that is a defeat for the Mexican government.

As for that strategy, it represents the failure of the position taken by the secretariat of governance and a direct reversal for the individual behind the open arms policy, President López Obrador.

The naiveté of the new government is the foundation of the humiliation that they are receiving from Washington. Last fall, during the transition, Olga Sánchez Cordero, who had been designated secretary of governance, went to a discussion with the board of one of the most important banks in the country, and they asked her to describe her map of risk. Sánchez Cordero did not know what to say and almost mumbled, “The migrants?” That could be, she said, before casting it aside. “No, no, I don’t think so,” she added.

The future secretary had no idea what was happening despite all the threats and warnings from Trump. In January, the sub-secretary of governance for human rights, Alejandro Encinas, said that “the migratory policy has no changes,” anticipating that those who wished to migrate would be received with open arms. A high-ranking official of the secretariat of governance admitted that the intent was very noble − which is true − but did not analyze the consequences − doubly true.

The pressure from Washington made them change their position, but it was insufficient. During his visit to Mexico City, the presidential adviser and son-in-law of Trump, Jared Kushner, told López Obrador that. Migration and security are the priority. Kushner indicated that Trump’s resources for reprisals are enormous. China was an example. Turkey, months before, another.

For China, he imposed increasing tariffs, and in Turkey, he derailed the lira and undermined President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. López Obrador pledged to take concrete action, and he did, but it did not convince. Sending Ebrard without Sánchez Cordero was a signal of what México was prepared to do. The only problem, as they are saying in Washington, is that the cancelation of tariffs is not a done deal despite everything that was offered. Trump has not yet accepted the terms of the Mexican surrender.

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