The Other Dispute on the U.S.-Mexico Border




  • In World/Europe
  • 2017-04-10 14:41:27Z
  • By Foreign Policy Magazine
The Other Dispute on the U.S.-Mexico Border
The Other Dispute on the U.S.-Mexico Border

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump repeatedly called for rewriting the U.S.-Mexico relationship. He peppered Mexicans with nasty stereotypes ("criminals," "rapists," and "bad hombres"), advocated ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement, and promised to build a "big beautiful wall" on the border - on Mexico's dime.

Now some prominent Mexicans are raising their own quibbles about the border. They are making the case that Mexico should return to its 1848 boundaries, before the United States snatched large chunks of their territory, including most of California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona, during the Mexican-American war.

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a respected left-wing politician and former presidential candidate, is leading the charge. He has been calling for the Mexican government to bring a lawsuit against the United States in the International Court of Justice, for reparations and indemnification.

"We are going to make a strong and tough case, because we are right. They were in Mexican territory in a military invasion," Guillermo Hamdan Castro, a lawyer working with Cárdenas on the case, told reporters in March.

The gambit hinges on a line in the first sentence of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the document that sealed the U.S. victory over Mexico on Feb. 2, 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American war. The sentence includes an admission the U.S. army invaded Mexico, and Hamdan argues that signing an agreement under such duress renders it null, and therefore Mexican immigrants can't be expelled.

Such a suit from the Mexican government would need to be approved by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, by no means a certainty. Then, it would likely  face slim odds of succeeding in the courts. Legal claims using modern conceptions of law are on shaky ground applied to a treaty more than 150 years old. And the United States does not recognize the International Court of Justice's jurisdiction to enforce its decisions in contentious cases.

But there are worries the suit could exacerbate already resurgent Mexican nationalism, endangering two decades of relative stability between the two nations. "I have concerns that this type of a case could really stoke a nationalistic defensive response from both sides of the border," Christopher Wilson, a Mexico expert at the Wilson Center, warned.

The very act of pointing out American hypocrisy on the border may become a rallying cry that could shake up politics in Mexico, a country that has recently been feeling denigrated and excluded by its powerful neighbor and supposed ally. Hamdan has even started a website and campaign called "Demand What's Ours."  

The proposal indicates just how much Trump's new tone has "managed to alienate" Mexicans, Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. She said pressure was building in Mexico to adopt a confrontational attitude to the U.S.

Anti-Americanism has always been a powerful undercurrent in Mexican society. Not only did the United States invade and seize nearly half its territory in the 1800s, but ever since then Mexico has chafed under American intrusions and perceived disrespect for Mexican sovereignty. Cárdenas's own father, former President Lázaro Cárdenas, was an expert in exploiting distrust of U.S. meddling. In the 1930s he argued that Mexicans needed to protect their natural resources from foreign control and expropriated the oil industry, pushing out foreign investors.

In the past two decades, the relationship between the two countries has significantly strengthened, with new cooperation in security and trade helping to cement a stronger bond, analysts said. "One of the great advances of the U.S.-Mexico relationship has been finding ways to move past a dynamic of mutual recrimination," Wilson said.

But Trump's election and repeated targeting of Mexicans has gone a long way to sour that relationship. Even if members of Trump's cabinet - his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly - seem to be sending more conciliatory signals to their Mexican counterparts, the cloud of uncertainty over U.S.-Mexico relations has encouraged agitators trying to translate popular outrage into political wins.  

Trump has become a reliable punching bag for left-wing politicians vying for office in the 2018 elections. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who ran for President in 2006 and 2012 and whose populist style is sometimes compared to a Mexican "Trump of the left", has been consistently blasting the U.S. President for his harsh measures against Mexican immigrants and his talk of building a wall.

Peña Nieto has also learned the upside of confronting Trump: he received a sudden bounce in the polls when he abruptly ditched a Jan. 31 visit to the White House in protest of Trump's insistence that Mexico would pay for a border wall.

Photo credit:  MARIO VAZQUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

COMMENTS

More Related News

EPA and Army Corps seek to rescind clean water rule
EPA and Army Corps seek to rescind clean water rule
  • US
  • 2017-06-27 20:52:28Z

By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released a proposal on Tuesday to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the latest move by the Trump administration to unwind environmental regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama. "We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

Feds looking into Bernie Sanders
Feds looking into Bernie Sanders' wife over real estate deal

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Federal investigators are looking into the finances behind a real estate deal for a now-defunct college put together by the wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and she has hired a lawyer to look after her interests, a family spokesman confirmed on Monday.

Prosecutors use Joe Arpaio
Prosecutors use Joe Arpaio's immigration talk against him
  • World
  • 2017-06-26 23:36:38Z

PHOENIX (AP) - Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal trial opened Monday over his defiance of the courts in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, marking the most aggressive effort to hold the former lawman of metro Phoenix accountable for tactics that critics say racially profiled Latinos.

Trump eager for big meeting with Putin; some advisers wary
Trump eager for big meeting with Putin; some advisers wary

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump is eager to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with full diplomatic bells and whistles when the two are in Germany for a multinational summit next month. But the idea is exposing deep divisions within the administration on the best way to approach Moscow in the midst of an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

Schumer: new Democratic 'agenda' will 'resonate with the middle class'
Schumer: new Democratic 'agenda' will 'resonate with the middle class'

Senator Chuck Schumer also talked about watching a New York Yankees baseball game alongside a man who wore pro-Trump clothing. Within a month, the Democratic party will present a "strong, bold, sharp-edged and common-sense economic agenda" to underpin its efforts against Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Europe

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.