Nothing to fear but fear itself
I haven’t been posting much on this site, and … as I generally do… stayed away from any discussion of US politics or of my personal life. For the record, while there has been an absurdly long delay in completing my naturalization here, I hadn’t planned to vote in the US anyway, and really didn’t have more than a theoretical interest in the outcome, the same as any other foreigner.
While I think the outcome of the US election had more to do with the inability of the losing candidate to connect with the voters (and her party’s reluctance to deal with very real distrust for the status quo), the election of a President who openly appealed to white supremacists, and who made anti-Mexican rhetoric integral to his campaign is likely to affect me personally. Some thoughts at three in the morning.
I first moved to Mexico the first of September 2001, in good part because I was tired of racism and I sensed the country was headed for a war. Which, it was, a mere ten days later. Coming back to the US a few years later, I didn’t recognize the place… the rampant nationalism and worship of the military you expect in a country at war was all there, but not the sense of a people pulling together, nor any sense of sacrifice for the good of the nation. Coming back to Mexico was a relief.
Mexico is hardly perfect, and our government is held in even less repute than that of the United States, but still… people speak in terms of “solidarity” and … where we argue or fight with each other… it is with a sense of fighting for the common good, and not personal advantage (even when, in reality, it is for personal gain). Outside of sports, you don’t hear talk of “winners and losers”. I like that.
And now… the country of my birth is to be led by an enemy of the country of my choice. What will happen?
I once had a few rocks tossed my direction by a crazed junkie who was shouting something about Iraq (at least that’s what I think she was babbling about), but I don’t expect any great outbreaks of anti-gringo violence here. Less willingness in the “gringo ghettos” by municipal governments to make concessions to foreigners, perhaps, and a few more mega-protests outside the US Embassy here, but nothing I’d take personally.
Financially, the country… and myself… will take a hit (and already have). Perhaps I’ll need to post more and beg for donations again. As it is, my business is on the brink of closing, and maintaining a middle-class life is becoming something of a challenge: which leads me to speculate on how Mexico will respond should a Trump Administration attempt to carry out it’s threats to crack down on undocumented aliens… or in Trump-ese, “Mexicans”.
It wouldn’t affect me directly, but the first response I’d expect from the government would be a movement against those “permanent tourists” and “border jumpers” that are easily discouraged from staying in the country, and could be removed without much damage to the economy. How much a rental and maybe a few extra meals at local restaurants contribute to the overall national wealth is probably much less than those snowbirds and border jumpers (who assume they will be given 180 days on a temporary visa every time they cross the border) think they do.
Our visa fees are modest, and a significant raise in prices could be imposed without a problem. I would expect immigration officers to be more proactive, and perhaps making a public display of deporting gringos working without authorization.
None of which really affects me. What does are the prices for the goods and services which are now imported from the United States. “Thanks” to NAFTA, most of my groceries are US brands, or reflect the prices of US imports, and food prices will be going up significantly. They already have, and that may not be a bad thing. Should … again as Trump threatened… try changing NAFTA’s terms, we are in a position to reclaim control of our agriculture, and with the US unable to buy as many Mexican food exports, the internal market could absorb much of it (and the prices would reflect much lower transportation costs).
Over the long term.. should we be able to withstand the pressure on the peso in the meantime… less dependence on US markets (and a general revulsion throughout the world at the US President) is an opportunity to expand trade with the rest of the world. US consumers will scream bloody murder is auto prices rise 35% (another Trump threat), but considering we can sell autos elsewhere just as well, and the auto plants here aren’t about to move to the United States, we’d make out well there.
Our oil? Depending on the month, Mexico is the second or third largest foreign supplier to the United States. It was suggested a few years ago that, while developing our abundant alternative energy sources (hydro, solar, tidal, wind, etc.) use the oil we have at home to develop our own manufacturing capability. Thanks Trump.
On a purely political level, the traditional parties here were all openly betting on a Clinton Administration that would, while paying lip service to our sovereignty, used us as an outlet for their military sales and supplies, under the fiction that they were “assisting” us in fighting a war to prevent the sale of drugs to the massive consumer market in the United States. And, like the Obama Administration, would praise (and reward) those Mexican politicians whose policies benefited the United States and its multinational corporations. With the despised Trump heading the US government, Mexican officials seen as too pro-US are not likely to find much support. I’m one who believes Mexico would be better off, financially and otherwise, if it turned to strengthening the internal market, and if it developed closer ties to the Latin American nations at the expense of the northern neighbors. And traded more with Asia than with the US.
The US has elected an ultra-nationalist (or at least an ultra some-of-the-nation-alist) and the response here might be one of our own… a return to our traditional political non-alignment, freeing us to work for the common good of Mexico, and not the economic benefit of the United States.