Mexicans react to transcript of Trump call with their president

The Washington Post reports: The leaked transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto published Thursday by The Washington Post left some Mexicans flabbergasted, even in a country where politics is commonly called surreal and where embarrassing phone calls by politicians are often filtered to the press.

One popular Mexican radio host compared the January phone call to a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Others complained that Trump was using tough talk to threaten the Mexican leader as if he were a Trump employee.

Peña Nieto appeared patient throughout the call, winning some rare praise from a population unhappy with his presidency. He politely told Trump — again — that Mexico would not pay to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

“My position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto told Trump.

“You cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that,” Trump replied. Later in the call he said, “If you’re not going to say that Mexico is going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.” Trump also boasted that he could make Peña Nieto so popular that he could get lawmakers to change the Mexican constitution so that he could seek reelection. [Continue reading…]

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Using texts as lures, Mexican government spyware targets journalists and their families

The New York Times reports: Mexico’s most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists.

The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students, a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico’s most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy.

Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug.

The company that makes the software, the NSO Group, says it sells the tool exclusively to governments, with an explicit agreement that it be used only to battle terrorists or the drug cartels and criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans.

But according to dozens of messages examined by The New York Times and independent forensic analysts, the software has been used against some of the government’s most outspoken critics and their families, in what many view as an unprecedented effort to thwart the fight against the corruption infecting every limb of Mexican society. [Continue reading…]

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How the U.S. triggered a massacre in Mexico

ProPublica reports: There’s no missing the signs that something unspeakable happened in Allende, a quiet ranching town of about 23,000, just a 40-minute drive from Eagle Pass, Texas. Entire blocks of some of the town’s busiest streets lie in ruins. Once garish mansions are now crumbling shells, with gaping holes in the walls, charred ceilings, cracked marble countertops and toppled columns. Strewn among the rubble are tattered, mud-covered remnants of lives torn apart: shoes, wedding invitations, medications, television sets, toys.

In March 2011 gunmen from the Zetas cartel, one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, swept through Allende and nearby towns like a flash flood, demolishing homes and businesses and kidnapping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds, of men, women and children.

The destruction and disappearances went on in fits and starts for weeks. Only a few of the victims’ relatives — mostly those who didn’t live in Allende or had fled — dared to seek help. “I would like to make clear that Allende looks like a war zone,” reads one missing person report. “Most people who I questioned about my relatives responded that I shouldn’t go on looking for them because outsiders were not wanted, and were disappeared.”

But unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States, when the Drug Enforcement Administration scored an unexpected coup. An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his ​brother Omar.

Then the DEA took a gamble. It shared the intelligence with a Mexican federal police unit that has long had problems with leaks — even though its members had been trained and vetted by the DEA. Almost immediately, the Treviños learned they’d been betrayed. The brothers set out to exact vengeance against the presumed snitches, their families and anyone remotely connected to them.
Their savagery in Allende was particularly surprising because the Treviños not only did business there — moving tens of millions of dollars in drugs and guns through the area each month — they’d also made it their home.

For years after the massacre, Mexican authorities made only desultory efforts to investigate. They erected a monument in Allende to honor the victims without fully determining their fates or punishing those responsible. American authorities eventually helped Mexico capture the Treviños but never acknowledged the devastating cost. In Allende, people suffered mostly in silence, too afraid to talk publicly.

A year ago ProPublica and National Geographic set out to piece together what happened in this town in the state of Coahuila — to let those who bore the brunt of the attack, and those who played roles in triggering it, tell the story in their own words. They did so often at great personal risk. Voices like these have rarely been heard during the drug war: Local officials who abandoned their posts; families preyed upon by both the cartel and their own neighbors; cartel operatives who cooperated with the DEA and saw their friends and families slaughtered; the U.S. prosecutor who oversaw the case; and the DEA agent who led the investigation and who, like most people in this story, has family ties on both sides of the border. [Continue reading…]

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Jeff Sessions, unleashed at the border

A New York Times editorial says: Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to the border in Arizona on Tuesday and declared it a hellscape, a “ground zero” of death and violence where Americans must “take our stand” against a tide of evil flooding up from Mexico.

It was familiar Sessions-speak, about drug cartels and “transnational gangs” poisoning and raping and chopping off heads, things he said for years on the Senate floor as the gentleman from Alabama. But with a big difference: Now he controls the machinery of federal law enforcement, and his gonzo-apocalypto vision of immigration suddenly has force and weight behind it, from the officers and prosecutors and judges who answer to him.

When Mr. Sessions got to the part about the “criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document forgers” overthrowing our immigration system, the American flag behind him had clearly heard enough — it leaned back and fell over as if in a stupor. An agent rushed to rescue it, and stood there for the rest of the speech: a human flag stand and metaphor. A guy with a uniform and gun, wrapped in Old Glory, helping to give the Trump administration’s nativist policies a patriotic sheen.

It was in the details of Mr. Sessions’s oratory that his game was exposed. He talked of cities and suburbs as immigrant-afflicted “war zones,” but the crackdown he seeks focuses overwhelmingly on nonviolent offenses, the document fraud and unauthorized entry and other misdeeds that implicate many people who fit no sane definition of brutal criminal or threat to the homeland.

The problem with Mr. Sessions’s turbocharging of the Justice Department’s efforts against what he paints as machete-wielding “depravity” is how grossly it distorts the bigger picture. It reflects his long fixation — shared by his boss, President Trump — on immigration not as an often unruly, essentially salutary force in American history, but as a dire threat. It denies the existence of millions of people who are a force for good, economic mainstays and community assets, less prone to crime than the native-born — workers, parents, children, neighbors and, above all, human beings deserving of dignity and fair treatment under the law. [Continue reading…]

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The new Great Wall of Trump looks a lot like the old Iron Curtain

Josephine Huetlin writes: The president of the United States is determined to build a massive barrier along the Mexican frontier. But it’s now clear his Great Wall will have a lot of not-so-great gaps in it. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly announced last week that no, despite President Trump’s campaign promise of an impenetrable border wall, “it is unlikely that we will build a wall from sea to shining sea.” This week a prosecutor labeled the immigration plan laid out by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “fucking horrifying.”

Here in Germany we’ve been watching all this with a mixture of amusement and disgust. After all, we know a few things about walls from the days when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain, which cut our country and our capital in half.

There used to be a section of particularly thick and grey concrete slabs next to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of this city, and until one night in 1989 they jutted out of the ground like a giant middle finger, as if deliberately intending to freak the living daylights out of any East Berliner who just so happened to be passing by the city center.

We all know the pictures of overjoyed people dancing on top in this section of wall on the 9th of November, 1989.

Axel Klausmeier, who directs the Berlin Wall Foundation, still has a special sense of rage toward the “martial construct,” as he calls it. “It was a conscious show of force to signal the core task of the East German border troops: no one is coming through.”

So, why didn’t the East German government just put up a fence or barbed wire here, as it did in so much of the countryside outside Berlin and along the border between East and West Germany in order to prevent people from fleeing its socialist utopia? (Even back then, fences were frequently judged a more practical barrier, because they allowed guards to see who was coming at them.)

“Everyone understands a wall,” Klausmeier replies. [Continue reading…]

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After decades in America, the newly deported return to a Mexico they barely recognize

The Washington Post reports from Mexico City: About 500 deported Mexicans, including some who had been picked up when Obama was in office, are arriving here daily.

“Many of these people come not knowing how to speak Spanish,” said Amalia García, secretary of Mexico City’s labor department, which serves as a point of contact for the deportees. “They come feeling very bitter, very ashamed and very hurt.”

More returnees means lower wages for everybody in blue-collar industries such as construction and automobile manufacturing, where competition for jobs is likely to increase, economists say.

Moreover, the loss of remittances from the United States — Mexico’s second-largest source of revenue at roughly $25 billion last year — could have devastating effects, particularly in rural areas. [Continue reading…]

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Immigrants, including the undocumented, make America a safer and more prosperous country

 

The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States, by Walter Ewing, Ph.D., Daniel E. Martínez, Ph.D. and Rubén G. Rumbaut, Ph.D.

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‘Psychological warfare’: Immigrants in America held hostage by fear of raids

The Guardian reports: Immigrant communities across the United States are in a state of fear and uncertainty after a week of immigration raids and leaks from the Trump administration that have raised the specter of a mass deportations.

The White House denied the most alarming leak – a draft memo suggesting it considered mobilising 100,000 national guard troops to round up and deport unauthorised immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border – was current administration policy.

However the 11-page memo has compounded fears among immigrant communities that Trump’s campaign promise of a hardline clampdown on immigration, dismissed by some at the time as little more than heated rhetoric, is about to be realized.

“It’s almost like it’s psychological warfare that’s being waged against people of color to create a constant feeling of fear and uncertainty,” said Juanita Molina, the executive director of Border Action Network, a human rights organization in Tucson, Arizona. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border.

In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.

The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.

“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated in the guidelines. [Continue reading…]

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‘I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico,’ Trump told Mexican president while threatening to send in U.S. troops

The Associated Press reports: A White House official is confirming that President Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that he might send U.S. troops to deal with “bad hombres down there” if the Mexican military doesn’t.

The official says the remark was meant to be “lighthearted” and was a reference to cooperation between the countries in fighting drug cartels. [Continue reading…]

Business Insider reports: During a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday, US President Donald Trump disparaged Mexico and threatened to use military force against the drug trade, according to Dolia Estevez, a journalist based in Washington, DC.

In an interview with the Mexican news outlet Aristegui Noticias, Estevez, who cited sources on both sides of the call, said, “It was a very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Peña Nieto.”

Estevez said that while both the White House and the Mexican president have released information about the call, both sides characterized it as a “friendly” conversation and neither disclosed what was said.

Estevez said she “obtained confidential information” corroborating the content of the discussion.

“I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico,” Trump reportedly told the Mexican president. “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.” [Continue reading…]

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U.S. allies draw close to Trump at their peril

The New York Times reports: A close relationship with any American president is regarded as crucial by allies and foes alike, but especially by intimates like Britain, Canada, Japan and Mexico. Yet like moths to the flame, the leaders of those nations are finding that they draw close at their peril.

While [Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa] May is the latest prominent figure to suffer repercussions for her handling of Mr. Trump, the leaders of those other three close allies have also felt the sting of public anger soon after what seemed to be friendly telephone calls or encounters. They then find themselves facing a no-win situation, either openly criticizing the leader of their superpower ally or pulling their punches and risking severe criticism at home.

One Western leader to escape this fate so far is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has kept a cool distance from Mr. Trump. In a telephone call on Saturday, she reminded him of Washington’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions to accept refugees fleeing war, a view underlined by her official spokesman.

The danger of playing nice with Mr. Trump should come as little surprise to his country’s allies. Besides campaigning on an “America First” platform, he has regularly argued that allies have been taking the United States for a ride, in trade, security and financial terms.

While he has been cordial in public settings with the leaders of those allied nations, Mr. Trump has turned on them soon afterward.

“The problem for May is that Trump doesn’t value relationships. He values strength and winning,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior State Department official. “If you rush to the White House to offer a weak hand of friendship, you guarantee exploitation.” [Continue reading…]

Paul Mason writes: We have two choices: we can acquiesce and let this sociopathic sex pest grab our collective hand amid the scary world he has created. We can abase ourselves for special favours – such as exemption for British dual nationals. Or we can reject Trump in his entirety.

Just as Trump is meddling – via Ukip – in the racial politics of Britain, British liberalism and socialism has the duty now to intervene in the social politics of the US. We must bet on Trump’s defeat in 2020, help train and fund lawyers and journalists to hold him in check, and – once he is gone – attempt to rebuild the multilateral order. Yes, and ruin his state visit: through all forms of protest legally possible.

The shape of a Dump Trump foreign policy is clear: Britain must strengthen its alliance with countries whose governments and peoples share our values: France, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada and Greece. Although we are headed out of the EU, the case for the softest possible form of Brexit is only strengthened by the US’s descent into arbitrary government. [Continue reading…]

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Mexico, unlike Britain, refuses to bow to America’s naked emperor

The New York Times reports: For decades, the United States and Mexico have expanded their cooperation and increasingly entwined their fortunes. Now the relationship between America and one of its most important allies and trading partners is being rewritten — on Twitter — culminating in a remarkable back-and-forth as the world looked on.

It began with Mr. Trump’s proclamation to build the wall. Next came a diplomatic response from Mr. Peña Nieto, urging unity, accompanied by suggestions from his aides that the meeting might be scrapped over the offense.

Mr. Trump followed on Thursday morning with a threat to cancel the meeting himself. Soon after, Mr. Peña Nieto officially announced that he would not attend, effectively beating Mr. Trump to the punch.

The exchange offered insight into the evolution of Mexico’s president, who began his term with great fanfare in 2012, only to be hounded by scandal, the violence engulfing his nation, a steady decline in the polls and, now, perhaps the worst period in Mexican-American relations since President Calvin Coolidge. [Continue reading…]

Jorge Guajardo writes: Trump now faces a southern neighbor largely united in its anti-U.S. sentiment. This sentiment is not primarily moved by his intention to renegotiate NAFTA; or his racist, anti-Mexican rhetoric; or even by the idea of the wall itself, which anyone who has actually been to the U.S.-Mexico border knows is patently absurd given the topography along the 2,000-odd mile length of the border — not to mention the large swathes of protected or privately owned land there. The sentiment, which led every single political leader in Mexico to demand that President Peña Nieto cancel his trip to Washington, comes from the indignity of the notion that Mexico will somehow pay for the wall. The Trump administration is basing its entire approach to the bilateral relationship with Mexico on a ludicrous and arrogant proposition: that it can make another sovereign nation foot the bill for its own xenophobic construction project.

Trump has recklessly and needlessly ushered in a dark era in U.S.-Mexico relations. Gratuitously bashing Mexico and Mexican immigrants plays well with Trump’s base, and in his ignorance, he seems to believe he can do it without consequences. With the possible exception of Canada, there is no other country with as many areas and levels of cooperation with the U.S. as Mexico. Issues of trade, transportation, national security, organized crime, water, the environment, health, and immigration that affect both countries rely on extensive bilateral cooperation and goodwill.

As Mexico prepares for a presidential election in 2018, every candidate worth his or her salt will try to outdo the competitors in anti-U.S. posturing. They will promise to expel armed U.S. law-enforcement personnel from Mexico, to legalize drugs, to allow Central American migrants to reach the U.S. border, to stop sharing water with drought-ravaged border states. Some of them, if elected, may even want to emulate Trump and follow through on their most ridiculous campaign promises. The voters, for sure, will be egging them on to stick it to the United States.

From an early age, every Mexican is taught that Mexico lost half its territory to its imperialist northern neighbor. Ask any Mexican child and they will name all six “Niños Heroes,” young cadets who died defending Chapultepec castle from the invading U.S. forces in 1847. One of them is said to have wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped to his death rather than be captured by the Americans. His story might be as apocryphal as George Washington’s cherry tree, but it nonetheless remains a powerful symbol of Mexican nationalism: We will just as soon suffer hardship, or even death, than be submitted to humiliation from the U.S. [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, British Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have few reservations about ingratiating herself through obsequious overtures she is now making to Trump: May’s loyalty is being rewarded this week with a plum designation: On Friday, she will be the first foreign leader to meet Trump in the Oval Office. The meeting will give her a prime chance to pitch Trump on a U.S.-Britain free-trade deal, an agreement that May has signaled will be a top priority of her premiership as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

But as she was winging across the Atlantic on Thursday, she also faced a wicked backlash in London from lawmakers who say her courting of the new U.S. president has gone too far.

The criticism came after Downing Street released excerpts from a speech May intends to deliver Thursday at a retreat for Republican congressmen in Philadelphia. Trump is also due to address the gathering.

In her speech, May seems to endorse Trump’s view of himself as a turnaround artist who can restore America to lost greatness. Both the United States and Britain, she is due to tell the Republicans, are “rediscover[ing] our confidence.”

“As you renew your nation just as we renew ours — we have the opportunity — indeed the responsibility — to renew the Special Relationship for this new age,” May will say, according to the excerpts. “We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.”

May’s office also said she would be bearing gifts when she meets the Trumps: “a hamper full of produce” from the prime minister’s country retreat, Chequers, for first lady Melania Trump; and for the president, “an engraved Quaich” — a two-handled cup that is an ancient Scottish symbol of friendship.

But back in London, May’s friendship mission was falling flat, as lawmakers wondered how their leader could seemingly ignore Trump’s more extreme positions and actions, include his advocacy of torture, his promotion of protectionism and his proposed ban on Syrian refugees. [Continue reading…]

The White House accuses the press of being part of a campaign to delegitimize Trump. In truth, Trump delegitimizes himself on a daily basis.

The only question anyone — foreign leader, cabinet secretary, federal official, or journalist — should be asking themselves is whether through their words an actions they are lending legitimacy to a man who would otherwise have none.

The United States now has at its helm an imbecile, a naked emperor, a national embarrassment.

This charade is only being sustained by those who are willing to afford Trump respect which he has done nothing to earn.

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Mexican president cancels meeting with Trump

CNN reports: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday canceled a meeting with US President Donald Trump that had been set for next week after renewed tensions erupted over Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border.

“This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the POTUS,” Peña Nieto tweeted.
Earlier Thursday morning, Trump had tweeted that it would be better to skip the meeting if Peña Nieto continued to insist Mexico would not pay for the wall — something the Mexican leader had said as recently as Wednesday evening.
“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” Trump tweeted and in an earlier tweet he noted the US’s trade deficit with Mexico and what he said were the American job losses caused by NAFTA.


Trump spoke about the cancellation during remarks at a gathering of congressional Republicans in Philadelphia.

Trump said that he and the Mexican president had mutually agreed to scrap their planned get together, and he repeated his position that the US won’t fund the wall.

“Unless Mexico will treat the US fairly, with respect, such a meeting is fruitless, and I want to go a different route,” Trump told House and Senate GOP lawmakers. “I have no choice.”

“Border security is a serious, serious issue and a national problem,” Trump said. “Most illegal immigration is coming from our Southern border.”

On Wednesday night, Peña Nieto had said at that time he did not see a need to scrap the get together — but he strongly reiterated that his country wouldn’t fund any border wall, which Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday would cost $12-$15 billion.

“President Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall has once again just been proven as delusional fiction by the Mexican President,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. “The wall is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle in the making, and Republicans should be embarrassed about their brazen hypocrisy in enabling it.” [Continue reading…]

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Facing Trump, Mexicans think the unthinkable: Leaving Nafta

The New York Times reports: Not long ago, any suggestion that Mexico might walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement would have been met with utter disbelief.

That was before Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States.

Free trade is a mantra of Mexico’s political elite, the core of the country’s development strategy.

But now that Mr. Trump has said he wants to renegotiate Nafta, a growing number of Mexican officials and businesspeople are asking what price is worth paying to stay in it. Many of them are concluding that Mexico could have more to lose from years of haggling and economic uncertainty than from simply opting out.

“There could be no other option,” Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, said on Tuesday in a televised interview. “If we go for something that is less than what we have, well, then there is no sense in staying.”

About $1.4 billion in goods go back and forth across the Mexico-United States border every day. The United States buys almost 80 percent of Mexico’s exports, and Mexico is the second-largest market in the world for American goods.

Exactly how Mr. Trump’s government is proposing to renegotiate that flow is still unclear. The Mexican government says that Mr. Guajardo and Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, expect to get a first look when they arrive in Washington on Wednesday for two days of talks with officials in the Trump administration.

Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is then scheduled to meet Mr. Trump on Jan 31.

The Mexican government’s talk of walking away from Nafta if the Trump administration demands terms that are too tough could be strategic bluster, a tactic to begin the discussions on stronger footing.

To drive home Mexico’s importance to the United States, the Mexicans also intend to raise many other issues that bind the countries together, including migration, border security and drug trafficking.

The United States depends on Mexico to fight drug cartels and stop migrants from Central America and other regions who are trying to reach the United States. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump is expected to sign an executive order to build a wall on the border.

Mr. Peña Nieto’s government is trying to present “a package deal” to the Trump administration, in a tacit warning that the proposed wall would be an inadequate replacement for Mexico’s help on migration and security.

The message Mexico hopes to deliver is that “if you build your wall, the wall will have to substitute everything that we used to do,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister. [Continue reading…]

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As Trump orders wall, Mexico’s president considers canceling U.S. trip

The New York Times reports: When Donald J. Trump called some Mexican immigrants rapists, threatened to deport millions of them and promised to build a wall to keep others out, Mexican officials counseled caution, saying it was merely bluster from an unlikely candidate who, if elected, would never follow through.

Now, after just five days in office, President Trump is looking a lot like Candidate Trump — and the Mexicans are furious.

With just a few strokes of the pen on Wednesday, the new American president signed an executive order to beef up the nation’s deportation force and start construction on a new wall between the nations. Adding to the perceived insult was the timing of the order: It came on the first day of talks between top Mexican officials and their counterparts in Washington, and just days before a meeting between the two countries’ presidents.

The action was enough to prompt President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico to consider scrapping his plans to visit the White House on Tuesday, according to Mexican officials. In a video message delivered over Twitter on Wednesday night, Mr. Peña Nieto did not address whether he would cancel the meeting, saying only that future steps would be taken in consultation with the country’s lawmakers. Instead, he reiterated his commitment to protect the interests of Mexico and the Mexican people, and chided the move in Washington to continue with the wall.

“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” he said.

It mattered little to Mexicans whether Mr. Trump’s order would receive congressional approval or the funding required to fulfill it.

The perceived insults endured during the campaign had finally turned into action. Decades of friendly relations between the nations — on matters involving trade, security and migration — seemed to be unraveling. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border cannot be built with only the executive order he signed Wednesday and its construction will require congressional approval, border experts and former federal officials said.

While Trump can start the wall by shifting around existing federal funds, he will need Congress to appropriate the $20 billion — and perhaps significantly more — required to complete the massive structure, the experts and former officials said.

“How is he going to fund it? You need money!” Rand Beers, a former acting Department of Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said Wednesday. “He’s got to have the money. And you can’t reprogram all that money without congressional authorization.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump threatens a good neighbor

Enrique Krauze writes: For Mexico, the United States has been a difficult neighbor, sometimes violent, almost always arrogant, almost never respectful, rarely cooperative. Mexico, on the other hand, has been a good neighbor to the United States.

To each offense, we have responded first with a gesture of noble resignation and then by searching for a practical resolution through a conciliatory openness of mind. Our positive attitude has allowed our two nations to live for almost 200 years in a generally peaceful atmosphere, though there have been tragic episodes and periods of tension. It is a record of tranquillity that few countries sharing a border can claim.

But this state of relative accord is now being menaced by President-elect Donald J. Trump, who brandished a rabidly anti-Mexican agenda during his campaign and once elected showed a disposition to act on the basis of his slanders. At his news conference on Wednesday, he vowed again that Mexico would pay for the wall he wants to build. It may well be time for Mexico to change its practice of using appeasement to cushion the damage of historical grievances. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump links his Mexico border wall plan to Israel’s ‘successful’ Apartheid wall

Israel-wall

The Guardian reports: Donald Trump attempted to draw parallels between Israel’s separation barrier and his much-touted border wall pledge on Sunday after both presidential nominees met the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Trump’s hour-long meeting with Netanyahu at his Trump Tower penthouse, the two reportedly discussed “at length Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders”, according to the Trump campaign.

Israel’s separation barrier, which runs for 440 miles (700km) near or along the 1949 armistice lines set after Israel’s war for independence, is a fence of most of its length. In contrast, Trump has pledged to build a wall of concrete and rebar as high as 55 feet (17 metres) along the nearly 2,000 mile border between the US and Mexico.

The meeting was the first of two that Netanyahu held with presidential candidates on Sunday, the day before the first presidential debate. Contrary to custom both meetings were closed to the media, the Trump campaign has prevented reporters from any access to his meeting with Netanyahu and aides to the Israeli prime minister reportedly went on to insist Clinton’s campaign abide by the same rules Trump insisted upon.

According to a readout provided by the Republican’s campaign, the nominee signaled support for the controversial moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the real estate developer “acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel”. [Continue reading…]

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Why did Peña Nieto invite Trump to Mexico?

Ioan Grillo writes: Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, had already had a terrible summer. July was the most murderous month in Mexico since he took office in 2012. Second-quarter results showed negative economic growth for the first time in three years. A survey found his approval rating slipping to 23 percent. And a news report even alleged that he plagiarized nearly a third of his law degree thesis. How could he make it any worse? Only by inviting Donald J. Trump, one of the most hated men in Mexico — so hated that piñatas with his visage are brisk sellers across the country — to his presidential palace.

The curious thing about Mr. Peña Nieto’s latest debacle is how, unlike his other woes, it was totally self-inflicted. There is little tradition of sitting Mexican leaders meeting with American presidential hopefuls, so he was under no pressure to arrange the get-together. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time: the very day of Mr. Trump’s hard-hitting immigration speech, and the day before Mr. Peña Nieto’s state of the union address. Mr. Peña Nieto had even compared Mr. Trump to Hitler.

But in a stupefying decision, last week he sent invitations out to the Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump to come to Mexico, and then conceded, reportedly under pressure from the Trump team, to meet its candidate first, on the fateful Aug. 31.

Mr. Peña Nieto insists that his nation won something from the encounter. “I was very clear — in public and private — in emphasizing that in Mexico we feel wounded and hurt by his announcements about Mexicans,” he wrote in an opinion piece in El Universal newspaper on Thursday. “I expressed that Mexicans deserve respect.”

But most politicians and pundits — and the public — read the scene differently. To them, Mr. Peña Nieto looked weak and submissive in front of a bully who is humiliating their nation. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports: Several major Latino surrogates for Donald Trump are reconsidering their support for him following the Republican nominee’s hardline speech on immigration Wednesday night.

Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, has resigned, and Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in an interview that he is “inclined” to pull his support.

“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Monty, a Houston attorney who has aggressively made the Latino case for Trump. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.” [Continue reading…]

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