Mar 012017


In 1944, Walt Disney Productions produced The Three Caballeros, a propagandistic film starring Donald Duck, a cigar-smoking parrot named Jose Carioca from Brazil, and a pistol-packing rooster from Mexico named Panchito Pistoles, as part of the studio’s good will message to South America in the midst of World War II.

In the film, Donald Duck (representing the Untied States) and Panchito (representing Mexico) become fast friends, but that friendship was based on the understanding both were very different and proud people (countries).

Historically, the relationship between Mexico and the Untied States has been complicated.  Because of Mexico’s proximity to the United States, the high level of bilateral trade and the strong economic and cultural ties connecting the two counties has made the recent disagreement between President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto even more poignant.

President Trump’s commitment to keep his campaign promise of building a wall along the Mexican border has put him at odds with Mexico’s long-standing opposition to such border security measures.

This international squabble has come at an opportune time for Pena Nieto, who is experiencing high disapproval numbers motivated largely by a spike in gas prices in Mexico.  He is using this opportunity to help rehabilitate his high approval numbers by “standing up” to the United Sates or to use a popular Anti-American phrase in Latin America, el imperio “the empire.”

Mexico has always been hostile to any attempts by the United States to crack down on illegal immigration.  The Mexican media and politicians alike romanticize the Mexican who crosses the U.S-Mexico border illegally.

They praise their bravery and promote them as the “best of Mexico.”   The hypocrisy is laughable.  While the Mexican media may praise the illegal crossing the border into the United States, Mexicans call out for a border wall to keep out the Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans.

According to the United Nations, approximately 400,000 Central Americans cross illegally into Mexico each year.  Using arguments many on the right of the political spectrum in the United States use to justify a border wall, the Mexican newspaper, El Manana, says proper immigration checkpoints are necessary on Mexico’s southern border with Central America and illegal immigrants turn to crime after crossing the border.

Sound familiar?  These are almost the same verbatim reasons why the Trump administration is so staunchly advocating for building the wall.

This hypocrisy should not come as a surprise to any careful observer of Latin American politics.  Throughout history, countries have lambasted the United States for instituting so-called “discriminatory policies” and then turn around and institute a similar policy in their own country.  Mexico is faithfully adhering to this tradition.

The Mexican government has always been an advocate of immigration rights in the United States, but it has been hostile to this advocacy in Mexico, arguing that the Mexican people have a right to defend their borders.  I completely agree!  Using the same logic, the United States has the same right.

The truth is this double standard is necessary for the Mexican government. The Mexican economy benefits tremendously from illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States.

Remittances from Mexicans living in the United States accounts for 2.1% of the Mexican GDP.  In 2015, Mexicans sending nearly $24.8 billion back to Mexico as remittances overtook oil revenues for the first time as a source of national income.

In addition to the economic benefits of illegal immigration for Mexico, the steady flow of low skilled workers out of Mexico helps the Mexican government escape accountability to its citizenry.

Instead of dealing internally with issues such as poverty and education, the government encourages illegal immigration to the United States. The message of the Mexican government is crystal clear, “Do you want a job?  Do you want education?  Do you medical care?  If you do, go to the United States.”

Historically, the pressure for a country to improve its economy, educational system, and healthcare has been a result of internal pressures from the lower classes of society.  By absorbing Mexico’s low-skilled workers, the United States is inadvertently helping the Mexican government escape accountability to its own people.

It should come to no surprise, then that the Mexican government is all too happy to continue with the status quo.

Because of the toxic political climate, I think it is important to say unequivocally that supporting a wall on the border with Mexico does not make a person anti-Mexican or a racist.  Every country in the world has a right to defend its borders.  This is not a matter of a lineage, but one of national sovereignty.

Having been born in California and being close to my Mexican godmother, I grew-up with a deep appreciation for Mexican culture and a deep love and respect for the Mexican people.  Mexican soap operas and music was a house staple growing up.

I wish the best for the Mexican people, but I won’t put Mexican national interests before our own.  The friendship between the United States and Mexico should be one based on mutual respect.  Disrespecting our rule of law undermines that great friendship.

The construction of the border wall could “destroy” the relationship between the Untied States and Mexico, but that may be a good thing. Sometimes in life we must first destroy to later rebuild.  At that time, I hope the United States and Mexico can be true amigos.

Arianna Mendez has interned for United States Department of State, the Romney/Ryan 2012 campaign, the McCain/Palin 2008 campaign, the offices of Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Arianna has also served as the National Hispanic Media and Outreach Director for the Brinker Education Initiative and as a Committee Member for the Miami-Dade for Trump Executive Committee. She is currently in her first year of law school and serves as Committeewoman on the Republican Party Executive Committee of Miami-Dade. ContactFacebookLinkedInInstagramTwitter

Photo Credit – borderfilmproject