New York Times
By Azam Ahmed, Kirk Semple, and Paulina Villegas
November 9, 2016
For Mexico, the nightmare came true.
Perhaps no country aside from the United States itself had as much at stake in the American presidential election as Mexico did.
Then on Wednesday, it watched as the American people elected Donald J. Trump to be their next president, bringing to power a candidate whose central promises have included building a wall between the two countries, upending decades-old trade deals and deporting millions of Mexican immigrants.
The peso suffered its largest single-day drop in nearly 20 years, a market stand-in for the general sentiment across Mexico as Mr. Trump was elected to the most powerful office in the world. For many, his election set back years of carefully cultivated efforts to improve the cross-border relationship, one that has been historically fraught. His election promises a turbulent financial future for Mexico, which relies on America as an economic lifeline, both in terms of trade and remittances.
“It’s an unmitigated disaster,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister and professor of politics and Latin American studies at New York University. “There are very few tools to fix the relationship.”
For months, Mexico watched the campaign with a mix of fear and bemusement, forced to stare down a raw undercurrent of American vitriol unleashed by Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Now, the election seems a harbinger of hard days to come for the country, its economy, migration and even its state of mind.
“This election reminded us of the bad image Mexico has in the U.S.,” said Jesús Silva-Herzog, a columnist and professor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico. “It has also served as a mirror in which we have painfully seen our reflection.”
“We will not have to wait for the presidential baton to be passed to feel the devastating effects, not only in economic terms but also the existential crisis it will cause,” he added.
Across Mexico City, hopes of an expected victory for Hillary Clinton were dashed as the state-by-state tallies went Mr. Trump’s way. In the streets, where Mexicans were already suffering a stagnant economy and worsening violence, the vote felt like a validation of Mr. Trump’s hostile remarks about Mexican immigrants and a broad statement of disrespect from their northern neighbors.
“Imagine what the U.S. will look like from now,” said Angelina González, who sells cosmetics in Mexico City. “A big wave of discrimination is coming.”
Among journalists from Horizontal, a cultural and political online magazine in Mexico City, spirits were low, and confusion reigned. Antonio Martínez Velázquez, a co-founder, reflected on the outcome with shock and a deep sense of uncertainty.
“This moment forces the world, including Mexico, to rethink its relationship with the U.S.,” he said. “This moment, which really is the end of an era, the end of the U.S. hegemony, is also the beginning of a new chapter for us in Mexico.”
Mr. Trump has been among the most powerful forces at play in Mexico this year, riling citizens of all stripes and even government officials with his anti-Mexican campaign. Anger surged when the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, invited Mr. Trump to visit Mexico, an offer the candidate accepted.
Weeks of vitriol and betrayal ensued, with many Mexicans denouncing Mr. Peña Nieto’s invitation as a needless capitulation from the leader of an insulted nation.
Now it turns out that Mr. Peña Nieto was right — that Mr. Trump was not simply a candidate who could be ignored.
In practical terms, most experts suspect, the election will reverberate most profoundly through the economy.
The United States and Mexico are deeply integrated in matters of economics, demographics, culture and security, stitched together by the movement of people, goods and money across a shared 2,000-mile border.
As one goes, so goes the other. Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner, after Canada and China, with about $531 billion of two-way trade in 2015.
Both countries are interdependent, with American goods and parts shipped to Mexican factories whose products are shipped back into the United States — and vice versa. Millions of American jobs are directly tied to trade with Mexico.
Mr. Trump has promised to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact that has fundamentally reshaped economic relations across North America. He has argued that Mexico was the outsize beneficiary of the agreement, while American workers suffered job losses and stagnant wages, an argument that played well with segments of the American electorate.
While Mexico is the second-largest destination for American goods, giving the nation some leverage or ability to respond to any actions taken by Mr. Trump, the countries exhibit “a very asymmetrical relationship,” said Mr. Castañeda, meaning that in the end there is little Mexico can do to apply pressure.
Many Mexicans may lose their jobs. All will suffer a rapid depreciation of the peso. But an economic crisis could also turn into a migration crisis, the opposite of what Mr. Trump has campaigned for months to halt.
About 35 million Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans live in the United States, with the vast majority of all people of Mexican descent either American citizens or legal residents. Between one million and three million Americans are present in Mexico at any given time, analysts said.
Undocumented immigration from Mexico has fallen, and Pew Research Center estimates show that more Mexicans are returning to Mexico than are migrating to the United States, resulting in a net outflow. But a sudden economic shock could send Mexicans once more to the United States to seek work.
“You generate an economic crisis in Mexico, and all of those gains we have seen in terms of zero migration go down the tubes,” said Agustín Barrios Gómez, a former Mexican congressman and the president of the Mexico Image Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting Mexico’s image abroad.
Not everyone felt entirely dour about the election results. If there was a silver lining, some said it was that the threat from the outside would force Mexicans to come together.
“I believe having a strong, negative factor right across the border will bring the Mexicans together, to work harder, which will be a positive effect,” said Arturo Delgado, the retired director of a technical school.
Some felt confident that the hostile talk of Mr. Trump as a candidate would ebb when he assumed office.
“I don’t see a problem with trade or immigration,” said Raymundo Riva Palacio, a political analyst and columnist.
On trade, Mr. Riva Palacio argued that business groups and governors who supported Mr. Trump, including Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, will impress upon him the importance of remaining in Nafta.
As for the wall Mr. Trump vowed to erect along the southern border, “it will be very difficult for Donald Trump to obtain the budget,” he said.
Ultimately, economics would temper Mr. Trump’s policies toward Mexico, he argued. But he said that more states were likely to pass restrictive laws that would make life more difficult for Mexican migrants. Mr. Riva Palacio noted that with the House of Representatives and the Senate remaining in the control of Republicans, the Trump victory signaled an ideological realignment that had not occurred since the election of Ronald Reagan.
“The problem isn’t for Mexico, it’s for the United States,” Mr. Riva Palacio said.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com