Monday, February 29, 2016
Mexican Media Views (most from the left) on Trump and Sanders
The U.S. presidential election is getting close
scrutiny in Mexico. Given the nature of the dependent relationship of Mexico with the United States, Mexicans tend to pay
far more attention to U.S. politics than U.S. citizens do of the Mexican political world. And in 2016 the interest south of
the border is running at a fever pitch.
The big reason, of course, is Donald Trump. The Republican contender’s continued vows to
expand the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and make the southern neighbor of the U.S. pay for it, as well as his comments that
Mexico was exporting rapists and other criminals to the U.S., have earned him near universal condemnation in the Aztec Republic.
Former Mexican President Vicente
Fox’s viral comment last week, to newsman Jorge Ramos, that “I am not going to pay for this f...... wall!,”
only upped the ante for Trump, who in the thick of the most recent Republican debate promised to build the wall even higher.
Felipe Calderon, Fox’s successor
from 2006 to 2012, and also an ex-president from the conservative side of Mexican politics, then entered the ring with a condemnation
of his own, not only repeating Fox’s likening of Trump to Hitler but too labeling the Republican contender a racist
who poses a danger to U.S. society.
“Why? Because Trump is sowing anti-American hatred in the whole world and that seed could
grow in the future into difficult conditions for Americans worldwide,” Calderon said.
Mexican Congressman Alejandro Ojeda, a representative
of the center-left PRD party and vice-president of the lower chamber of Congress, joined in the fray, denouncing Trump’s
rhetoric as “neo-Nazi and authoritarian.”
Ojeda urged stronger stands against Trump from President Enrique Peña Nieto and other senior
Stepping up to a boiling plate, Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu blasted Trump’s border wall and
other postures. “(Trump) sounds racist and ignorant because he is that way,” Ruiz Massieu was quoted in a February
28 article in Proceso newsweekly that was based on statements she made to the Washington Post.
“We are absolutely sure that
this is not the way in which people from the United States think. The U.S. is a country founded on tolerance, openness and
the acceptance of people from other countries….”
From left to right on the Mexican political spectrum, it’s hard to find
anyone with positive comments to say about Donald Trump.
Trump’s run for the White House has made its mark on U.S.-Mexico diplomatic relations. During
a February 25 visit to Mexico City, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, while not identifying Trump by name, apologized about comments
made about Mexico during the primary campaigns.
The billionaire’s campaign is even stirring up the expat community in Mexico; messages in
English against Trump were recently visible on the streets of Puerto Vallarta. In the view of Mexican analyst Luis Linares
Zapata, initial dismissals of Trump’s prospects have been turned on their head by the businessman’s string of
“Few now wager on his failure, despite the different reasons their negative predictions were based on,”
Linares recently wrote. “(Trump’s) slogan of remaking the greatness of the United States sounds appetizing
to adherents filled with revenge and arrogance, who are among the many that feel attacked by multiple rivals and enemies.
The lack of trust in and the rejection of politicians in the traditional mold (Washington elite) are additional characteristics
of his supporters.”
Linares considers Trump’s stump for the White House an outcome of more than three decades of the neo-liberal
(free market, trickle down) economic model that left “sharp wounds to the body and the spirit of extensive layers of
the population,” resulting in a generalized discontent that is dually manifested on the right and on the left. “Both
(political tendencies) seem for now if not to dominate the election environment, then at least to catalyze it,” he wrote.
Another U.S. presidential hopeful
is also making a growing splash in the Mexican media, but in stark contrast to Trump’s bid, delivering messages that
resonate south of the border. Virtually unknown in Mexico until now, he is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders’ movement for a “political
revolution” has inspired a slew of commentaries in the Mexican press. For pundit Carlos Aguirre, Trump and Sanders personify
“two worlds in confrontation,” with the former representing a conservative, economically unfair society based
on an ideology of “exaggerated nationalism” and international aggressiveness.
“That’s why Trump’s discourse
has been racist and discriminatory,” Aguirre contended in La Jornada.
Trump’s political model, Aguirre continued,
means “economic inequality as the basis of the world economic system, removing the environment from the center of the
agenda, (not) complying with human rights, and (not supporting) popular and other struggles that, with weakness, Barack Obama
and other international actors defended.”
Self-described democratic socialist Sanders is the flip side of the political coin, constituting
a “fresh option” and the best choice for liberal and egalitarian tendencies developing in the modern world, according
Almeyra, a leftist intellectual and veteran La Jornada columnist, compared Sanders’ grassroots campaign to
the “best traditions of the U.S. people,” recalling the labor, Marxist and anarchist movements of the early 20th
century (many of which emerged in immigrant communities) and the memories of Wobbly leader Big Bill Haywood, activist Mother
Jones, and historic Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs.
A once vibrant U.S. left was suppressed by war-fanned “super-patriotism,”
the Red Scare after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and the repression of the McCarthy era in the 1950s, Almeyra wrote, arguing
that subsequent developments in both the global political and economic spheres, including the disappearance of the Soviet
Union and the economic downturn in this country, eventually opened a new political space in the U.S. for the revival of left,
or at least New Deal-style, politics that carry implications far beyond U.S. borders.
“As in the 1930s, the prolonged crisis
is impelling a new radicalization of broad sectors of youth, especially among women who are very discriminated against,”
for Bernie Sanders, who is a permanent adversary of the wars, invasions and coups organized by Washington, and a constant
critic of the control of society, culture and information by big capital as well as the corruption of the establishment, only
partially expresses this cultural evolution and change in politics at the roots.”
Sanders’ advance, Almeyra wrote, is worrisome
to the right-wing in the U.S. and abroad because “it shows that an important part of the youth of the nation are breaking
with the dominant ideology and don’t regard socialist ideas as so abhorrent and anti-patriotic.”
Sanders’ critiques of financial
oligarchies, wealth inequality and political corruption are familiar themes in Mexican politics. And feedback from Sanders’
platform seems to be drifting back into Mexico, where voters will elect new leaders this year in a number of states and municipalities.
Almost sounding like a Mexican Bernie
Sanders, Chihuahua gubernatorial hopeful Javier Corral recently said in Casas Grandes that a living wage is among the profound
economic, political and social changes needed. Corral took a jab at wealth concentration, asserting that 92 percent of the
wealth in Chihuahua is controlled by only 20 percent of the population.
Corral is running for governor under the banner of the historically
conservative National Action Party (PAN), but his bid for office is supported by individuals long active on the left. More
and more, the burning issues of Mexico and the U.S. – rigged economies, skewed income distribution, decent wages, and
access to education and health care – are converging.
In commentary for Cambio de Michoacan, entitled “Bernie Sanders:
The Hope of the Impossible,” Hugo Rangel Vargas tagged Sanders’ candidacy a watershed for the United States.
The Sanders campaign, he affirmed,
is renewing debate about the “true content of North American democracy,” while spotlighting proposed labor, education,
healthcare, environmental and political reforms that would benefit not only the U.S. but the entire world.
Similar to Almeyra, Rangel noted
Sanders’ popularity with a significant sector of U.S. youth, as well as the grassroots fundraising strategy underpinning
the 74-year-old senator’s run. Like Aguirre, however, Rangel cautioned about Sanders’ ability to govern as president
in a political environment riddled with contrary Congressmen and governors.
“Nonetheless, the enormous energy that has popped open the
door of utopia through which have passed thousands of young volunteers and citizens with their individual donations has rendered
Bernie’s campaign structure a powerful political organization,” Rangel wrote.
“They could be the social reinforcement
in the streets of North America that push hope to reality. ‘Feel the Bern’ is not only an intelligent publicity
slogan; it also represents the yearnings of a society that seemed destined to be thrown out onto the street.”
Sources: Proceso, February 28, 2016. Article by J. Jesus Esquivel. El Universal/EFE, February 27, 2016. El Diario de Juarez, February 25, 2016. Arrobajuarez.com,
February 25, 2016. La Jornada, February 14 and 24, 2016. Articles by Guillermo Almeyra and Luis Linares Zapata. La Jornada
(Aguascalientes edition), February 14, 2016. Article by Carlos
Aguirre. Cambio de Michoacan, February 12, 2016. Article by Hugo Rangel Vargas.
Reprinted with authorization from Frontera NorteSur, a free, on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news source; translation FNS. Frontera NorteSur (FNS), Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico