- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
On Friday, Mexico named Géronimo Guitérrez its third U.S. ambassador in under a year, and the the first who will get the job under soon-to-be U.S. President Donald Trump.
Guitérrez heads the North American Development Bank. He has held two posts in administrations helmed by the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, which is now in the opposition. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, may have reached across the political aisle to muster more support or his pick, whom the senate still must ratify.
If it does, Guitérrez will have the enviable task of representing Mexico in Trump’s Washington. The incoming president has been, to put it charitably, all over the place when it comes to his feelings on Mexico and Mexicans. He’s said, among much else, the following:
1. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” With these words, Trump kicked off his presidential campaign. And now he’s president-elect! As such, Trump clarified these comments at his first post-election press conference on Wednesday:
2. “I respect the government of Mexico. I respect the people of Mexico. I love the people of Mexico. I have many people from Mexico working for me. They are phenomenal people. The government of Mexico is terrific. I don’t blame them for what’s happened. I don’t blame them for taking advantage of the United States.”
3. The United States is going to “get Mexico to build a wall along the U.S. border.” Granted, this too, has been clarified since the election. Trump is now planning on having Congress pay for the wall on the border, which he recently described as a “sieve,” and then having Mexico pay the United States back. Said former Mexican president Vincente Fox (of Gutierrez’s PAN party),
Neither today, nor tomorrow nor never Mexico will pay for that stupid wall. If Trump wants a monument to his ego, let him pay for it!!
— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 11, 2017
America Will Survive.
— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 12, 2017
Thanks, Mr. Fox. Moving on!
4. “There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder.” U.S. companies that move to Mexico may face a 35 percent tax, though it is as yet unclear whether this will be a tariff, which only impacts imports, or a border adjustment tax, which impacts imports and exports. Either would probably negatively impact Mexico’s economy. Which brings us to:
5. Trump views Mexico as the gold medal winner of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Some Mexicans say this is news to them. Others, like the Mexican government, say sure, fine, Mr. Trump, let’s renegotiate NAFTA.
So, to review: If ratified by the Mexican senate, Guitérrez will get to represent his government, which Trump believes is taking advantage of America, and is sending rapists and drug users to the United States, and therefore must be made to retroactively pay for a wall with money it almost certainly will not have after tariffs are put in place and NAFTA is renegotiated.
Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images