Mexico’s President Writes a Letter to Trump (With Postscript)
Note: Please read the “postscript” at the end.
Last Friday, Trump took both U.S. lawmakers and the Mexican government by surprise when he tweeted:
On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.
Trump added that the tariff would “gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied”
A follow-up statement “clarified” the threat saying the tariffs would climb to 10 percent on July 1 and then, “if the crisis persists,” the tariffs would be increased by 5 percent each month for three months and remain at 25 percent until Mexico “cried uncle” – the latter, my take.
On the same day, Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO in Mexico, penned an open letter to Trump.
It is a touching, yet powerful, eloquent and persuasive appeal to reason, compassion and good neighborliness. Above all, the letter is an expression of national pride, principles and sovereignty.
While Trump must have read the open letter, judging from his remarks during a joint news conference in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May, it had no impact on him whatsoever.
But perhaps, just perhaps, the letter — along with a sense of sound judgement and even some stiffening of the backbone — may be having an impact on Republican legislators, as they “warned Trump administration officials Tuesday they were prepared to block the president’s effort to impose tariffs on Mexican imports. The Washington Post characterizes this as “promising what would be GOP lawmakers’ most brazen defiance of the president since he took office.”
True to his arrogance and obstinacy, Trump warned that it would be “foolish” for Republican senators to try to stop him.
Here is a rough translation by the author of the Mexican President’s letter.
President Donald Trump:
I’ve been informed about your latest position regarding Mexico. First of all, I want to express that I do not want a confrontation. The people and the nations we represent deserve that, no matter how grave a conflict we face, we turn to dialogue and act with prudence and responsibility.
Mexico’s best president, Benito Juárez, maintained excellent relationships with his Republican counterpart, Abraham Lincoln. Later on, during the oil expropriation, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the profound reasons that led a patriotic President Lázaro Cárdenas to act in favor of our sovereignty. For sure, President Roosevelt was a titan of liberty. Before anyone else, he proclaimed the four fundamental human rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to live free of fear and the right to live free of misery.
When it comes to the migration issue, that’s the thinking behind our politics. Human beings do not abandon their hometowns because they would like to, but rather because they have to. That’s why, from the beginning of my presidency, I proposed to you to opt for a partnership to assist in the development and support of Central American countries by making productive investments that will create jobs and address the root cause of this painful issue.
You must also know that we are complying with our responsibility to prevent, as much as possible, and without violating human rights, passage through our country. It is also worth reminding you that, before long, Mexicans will no longer need to go to the United States, and that migration will be optional, not forced. This is so because we are fighting corruption, Mexico’s principal problem, like never before! And this is how our country will become powerful and with a social dimension. Our fellow citizens will be able to work and to be happy where they were born, where their families, traditions and cultures are.
President Trump: Social problems cannot be resolved through taxes or coercive measures. How can one transform, overnight, the country of fraternity towards immigrants from around the world into a ghetto, in a closed-off space that stigmatizes, mistreats, persecutes, expels and nullifies legal rights to those who are seeking —with effort and hard work— to live free of misery? The Statue of Liberty is not a meaningless symbol.
With all due respect, while you have the sovereign right to say so, the slogan “America First” is a fallacy, because until the end of times and beyond national borders, justice and universal brotherhood will prevail.
More specifically, Mr. President: I propose to you that we deepen our dialogue, that we find real alternative solutions to the migration problem, and please, remember that I don’t lack courage, that I am not a coward or timid, but that I act based on principles: I believe that politics, among other things, was invented to avoid confrontation and war. I do not believe in the Talion Law, in a “tooth for a tooth” or an “eye for an eye,” because, if we go there, we will all end up toothless or blind in one eye. I believe that as statesmen and even more so as national leaders, we have an obligation to find peaceful solutions to disputes and to always practice the beautiful ideal of non-violence.
In conclusion, I propose that you instruct your staff, if it’s not an inconvenience, to meet with representatives of our government, led by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, who are heading to Washington tomorrow so we can find a solution that benefits both our nations.
Nothing by force, everything with reason and by the Law!
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Lead image: Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com
The cartoon featured in this post is by famous political cartoonist Daryl Cagle and depicts an eagle being choked by Trump.
Wikipedia describes the eagle in the central emblem of the Mexican flag as recalling “the legend of an eagle sitting on a cactus while devouring a serpent that signaled to the Aztecs where to found their city, Tenochtitlan.”
Commenting on his cartoon, Cagle writes, “The Mexican flag features a wonderful eagle character that symbolizes Mexico.”
Of course, political cartoons can be controversial, sometimes leading to serious consequences.
Cagle himself recalls how drawing the Mexican eagle, “got [him] in trouble once.”
He is referring to a cartoon in 2010 depicting the Mexican flag riddled by bullets with the eagle shot dead.
Cagle writes, “The cartoon illustrates the terrible violence in Mexico. Since President Felipe Calderón announced his war on the drug cartels, over 28,000 people have been killed in a civil war that shows no sign of easing.”
He describes the “spirited, angry reaction” –- at times supportive — to his cartoon from Mexican and American readers and explains the nature and purpose of political cartoons:
Part of the friction comes from a basic misunderstanding of what an editorial cartoon is – some people think editorial cartoons are supposed to be funny jokes. A good editorial cartoon might be funny, it might make readers cry, or think – and sometimes a cartoon that makes readers angry is the most effective cartoon of all.
Thought you might like to know the background.