The Mexican ambassador to the United States, Carlos Sada Solana, told reporters in Phoenix that Mexico shall remain firm in refusing to provide funds for President-elect Donald Trump proposed border wall to address illegal immigration emanating from Mexico. Speaking to reporters at the Arizona Republic, Sada said "We have said time and again Mexico is not paying for the wall," and added, "That is something that has been said several times by the president of Mexico, the secretary of foreign affairs, secretary of economy, the secretary of finance. So we are not paying for the wall."

"Mexico is not the enemy," Sada said. "It is the partner."

Mexican-American activists defeat Arpaio

Phoenix and the surrounding Maricopa County was where Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had remained defiant over enforcing immigration law, was defeated in a re-election bid in November. The region has a high percentage of Latino voters of Mexican origin of whom many were incensed by Arpaio’s alleged anti-immigrant actions and voted him out. Latino activists were prominent in denouncing Arpaio as an alleged “racist”, which was echoed by their partners in leftist organizations. Arpaio also fell afoul of a federal court that had ordered him to halt immigration-enforcement operations.

In October, the federal Department of Justice announced that it was pursuing charges that he was in contempt of court. The octogenarian lawman, who was applauded by Americans seeking border enforcement, may face as many as six months in jail if convicted. The case has few precedents in American legal history.

 

Sada claimed in the interview in Phoenix that Mexico has a supposed interest in “a safe and efficient border." He also said that should Trump attempt to place a surtax on remittances sent from the United States to Mexico, his country would then challenge the legality of the tax. Currently, approximately $25 billion is wired from the U.S. to Mexico each year by Mexicans working in the United States. President Barack Obama joined with Trump’s Mexican critics in deriding the proposal. Last year, Obama said, "The notion that we're going to track every Western Union bit of money that's being sent to Mexico, you know, good luck with that."  

 

Sada replaced Miguel Basañez Ebergenyi in the ambassadorship last year. Basañez was regarded as too anemic in his responses to Trump. Sada has long experience representing Mexico in the U.S., having served as consul general in Los Angeles for three years and previously Chicago, New York, and San Antonio. A statement from the Mexican government at the time said that Sada has “broad experience … protecting the rights of Mexicans in North America, as well as defending the interests of Mexico abroad.”

Already, Sada has tried to show that Trump’s policies might have a negative impact on Arizona and the rest of the U.S. For example, Sada said that the trade that flows between the two countries as a result of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has resulted in 100,000 jobs in Arizona, which exports 40 percent of its foreign trade to Mexico. "For us, it is important that it is well-understood the relationship between Mexico and the United States because we think there is a perception that does not always correspond to the reality," Sada said.

Getting to know you

Sada says his government believes that the proposed wall is unnecessary. It said that he has concerns about a possible environmental impact. "We fear that there is going to be consequences regarding environmental issues," Sada continued. "It's also going to be sending a very negative message. What we say is we like to build bridges." He claimed that Mexico has a vested interested in having a “safe and efficient border." Sada also told his listeners at the Arizona Republic that Americans need to know more about Mexico. As a matter of fact, Spanish is the most widely studied foreign language in the U.S., and numerous universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mexican studies, Latin American studies, and Chicano studies, in addition to the Spanish language. In contrast, few academic institutions in Mexico have departments that specifically study the United States. In fact, it was Austral University in Argentina that was the first university in Latin America to offer doctoral level courses about the U.S. in 1992.

That f***ing wall

Trump's proposals have met with fierce criticism from Mexican elites. For example, former Mexican President Vincente Fox said last year in response to Trump, "I'm not going to pay for that f***ing wall." Fox has frequently lectured American audiences with proposals for a borderless North America, while defending what he has said is the right of Mexicans to freely cross the U.S. border.

 

A Zogby poll in 2002 found that 58 percent of Mexicans agree with the statement, “The territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.”  The concept of “Reconquista” -- reconquest in Spanish -- has frequently been touted by Mexican and American academics, but not officially a diplomatic goal of the Mexican government.  However, sentiment remains strong within Mexico that the U.S. invaded and took half of Mexico as a result of the Mexican-American War in the early 1800s.

 

But Mexico is indeed fostering an open effort to turn Mexicans living in the U.S. as permanent residents into American citizens and thus allow them to vote in U.S. elections. Earlier this year, Bloomberg Business wrote, "Mexico is mounting an unprecedented effort to turn its permanent residents in the U.S. into citizens, a status that would enable them to vote -- presumably against Donald Trump."

Mexican diplomats operating from their country’s consulates and in cooperation with churches and civic groups. Mexico has never accepted the sovereignty of the U.S. over the territory seized during the Mexican-American war. Radical groups such as MeCha and La Raza have called for a return of the southwestern states to Mexico. Through the ballot box, goes one theory, Mexico could accomplish what could only be achieved otherwise through an armed invasion.

In August 2014, when visiting Los Angeles, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said “This is the other Mexico,” thereby putting the barest veil over Mexico’s dream. Back in 1994, President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico proposed "dual nationality" for all people of Mexican extraction, regardless of whether they had been born in Mexico or not. Mexico has even published a guide for its citizens seeking to cross the U.S. border rather than dissuading them from making the dangerous, sometimes deadly trek.

'Reconquista' through the back door

In the U.S., Mexican consular officials have issued so-called “matriculas” as identification for their citizens and have lobbied for U.S. authorities to accept them for drivers license applications and bank accounts. They also provide Mexican textbooks to children in American public schools that tout Mexican nationalist claims. None of these issues came up in Ambassador Sada’s appearance in Phoenix. Mexican consuls in the U.S. have repeatedly criticized U.S. law officials when they enforce U.S. law against illegal immigration. 

Mexican law regarding foreigners can be quite strict. During the Mexican Revolution of 100 years ago, American citizens were shot by revolutionaries and their property seized. Currently, American citizens are not allowed to own land in Mexico.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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