For the record, I am not a Trump supporter. However, I do think that Mexicans are taking the businessman way too seriously.
Let’s start with former President Vicente Fox who uses the F-word more often than the Democrats play the race card. Does Mr. Fox seriously think that anybody cares, including Mexicans in the U.S., what he thinks?
Mexicans celebrated Holy Week with the annual tradition of setting fire to their Judases.
This year, that meant lighting replicas of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump ablaze.
The demons in the ritual are usually forked-tongue devils, flaming dragons and politicians, according to The Washington Post. The burning symbolizes the destruction of evil.
“For Latinos here and in the U.S., [Donald Trump is] a danger, a real threat,” Leonardo Linares told The Washington Post.
“He’s a good man to burn as a Judas,” Linares added about his Trump effigy.
Trump has repeatedly threatened throughout his presidential campaign to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it.
When Trump announced his candidacy in June, he infamously referred to undocumented immigrants from Mexico as “rapists” and “criminals.”
Let the figures burn. Let many Mexicans get their kicks and enjoy the Trump-bashing. Unfortunately, Mexico has a lot bigger problems than Trump.
First, most Mexicans feel very disconnected from the political class, not much different than up here. You will hear the same complaints from Mexicans about politicians that you hear at a Trump rally. People on both sides of the border feel let down by the political class.
With respect to NAFTA, Mexicans of all socioeconomic levels tell me that the agreement has been great for large retailers, like WalMart, but has put thousands of shops and small retailers about business. And they also complain about cheap Chinese goods on the shelf! Last December, Richard Patten wrote this about NAFTA:
“Mexican manufacturing — e.g., of farm implements — was wiped out. Real Mexican wage levels in general have declined since NAFTA and 20 million Mexicans now live in food poverty. With the Mexican economy, largely rural, decimated, it became more dependent on the trade of drugs into the United States. The drug cartel money and power now reaches into Mexican government and police — as seen in the massacre of 43 students in Iguala, south of Mexico City.
I think that Mr. Patten is a bit too negative. However, his point of view represents a growing resentment in Mexico about free trade agreements that hurt workers, not much different than we hear up here.
Mexico is the second-largest economy in Latin America, just after Brazil. With 122 million residents, Mexico has about the same number of potential customers as Spain, France and Portugal combined. The challenge for retailers, however, is that for all the talk of Mexico’s emerging middle class, just under half the country’s population still lives below the poverty line.
Modern Mexico is a deeply divided economy. In all, there are more than 145,000 individuals in Mexico each with a net worth over $1 million dollars, (not including the value of their primary residence.) The rest of the economy is in much worse shape. While the wealthiest 10% of households earn an average of just over $33,000 dollars a year, the next wealthiest income bracket earns less than half as much.
Third, the cartels are making life miserable for everyone, from the innocent people caught up in gang fights to police departments under siege from the millions of dollars that the cartels are willing to spend for bribes. It is making Mexico ungovernable, specially the border areas literally run by cartels. My Mexican friends continue to tell me that they’d love to see a U.S. president who tackles illegal drug consumption or the source for billions of dollars going south every year.
Here is the reality: the election of Trump will have little impact on Mexico. Mexico’s structural problems will not be impacted one way or another. Furthermore, # 45, whether it’s Trump or anyone else, will be consumed with foreign policy problems and Mexico is not on that list of urgencies.
Trump is a great distraction and not much more for people south of the border.