A measure enacted a week ago by the Texas state government has already caused a loss of approximately $45 million for Mexican drivers and binational companies in only a few days.
The order was to stop and check the large number of cargo transports crossing the border between Mexico and Texas. The purpose: to stop migrants hidden in the large one- and two-box trucks — cargo containers — crossing into U.S. territory.
It might seem like an isolated measure by Gov. Greg Abbott, who wants to look good to his electors and to the Republican Party, looking ahead to future elections.
And so far, it would all be within the framework of the Republican Party’s anti-immigrant logic, still with strong ties to former President Donald Trump. But the context is certainly much more complex.
The U.S.-Mexico relationship has been complicated in recent months. Growing tensions are present in the binational region, largely because of the obstinacy, stubbornness and political ineptitude of the Mexican president.
As never before, high-level civil servants from Washington have visited Mexico in the last 14 months. With Joe Biden’s election and a clear goal to build a solid, productive, open relationship between allies, the U.S. president has sent seven close associates, members of his cabinet. From Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to trade advisors; the special ambassador for the environment; and even Vice President Kamala Harris.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador plays a game of mirrors: I see you, and I don’t see you, and what you see is my reflection.
With extreme ignorance, he has been dismissive of the continuous visits, messages and invitations for dialogue, collaboration and understanding.
Let’s remember that the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement was negotiated by the previous administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. Faced with Trump’s brash “rebalancing” of binational trade, he launched an offensive to rebuild the agreement. Not bad, considering the more than 25 years that the previous (NAFTA) agreement had been in place. Despite the cold reception, the professional team from the Mexican government, led by then-Trade Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, with the majority of experts, internationalists and professionals in their areas, reached a decent agreement.
AMLO’s government sent Jesús Seade as an observer accompanying the negotiating team, with the clear instruction to protect and safeguard energy and especially oil issues.
Today, after a subsequent two years of the pandemic and economic collapse, we have serious risks in our relationship: The automobile industry is faced with a lack of computer chips; the U.S. “subsidy” for hybrid and electric vehicles in the recent years has left Mexico at a disadvantage; there are sanctions on growing avocados; there are serious problems with security, violence and drug trafficking that the Mexican government prefers to ignore.
If we add to this the barrage of demands in U.S. courts for changes in the electric industry involving $10 billion of U.S. investment in Mexico, the scenario becomes cloudy.
Washington’s goodwill toward Mexico is about to collapse, despite the strenuous efforts of Foreign Minister Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón to contain the outbursts and jokes of his boss — such as putting on hold Mexico’s relationship with Spain, which he finally smoothed over with Spanish companies, and AMLO’s accusing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of interference for calling for the protection of the lives of Mexican journalists.
And if Mexico is also in the middle of the political-electoral battle of 2022 — the midterm elections for Congress — as well as the 2024 presidential election, our immediate future with the United States fails to look promising.
Acrimony in politics, disagreements in security, neglect of the topic of migration, total abandonment of trade, absolute blindness to ecology and the protection of the environment, as well as a frankly hostile and clumsy tone from the Mexican presidency — all paint a very complex picture. Add to that the enormous folly of not condemning the Russian invasion. And then to top it off — and to Mexico’s disgrace — a group of deputies from the Cold War of the 1960s set up a Mexican-Russian friendship group.
The action taken by Abbott in Texas is uncomfortable, annoying and costly for drivers, and is more in line with U.S. domestic politics. But it adds to the somber, negative context of distrust between the two governments.