BEHIND THE WALL

Sam Kahl
Sam Kahl
Aug 17 · 4 min read
WALTER H. HORNE/COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

I believe that Mexico and the United States are destined to become a great people, joined together in a common cause. Three reasons for saying this are: opportunity, history and defeating a common threat.

Opportunity

As reported in BBC News on July 2, 2018, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador opened a door with U.S. President Donald Trump stating that, “I proposed exploring a comprehensive agreement on development projects which will create jobs in Mexico and, with it, reduce migration and improve security.”

Pres. Trump responded positively to this overture. Democrats should as well. It provides a window of opportunity for advancing peace through prosperity. Mexico is a geographical bridge between Central America and United States. Though this is not a done deal by any means, it’s also not a dead issue. Work is in progress, though struggling through all kinds of political obstacles.

History

Mexico and the United States are part of a fabric of history.

Some bare highlights to appreciate:

  • Mexico’s eleven-year War of Independence (1810–1821) did not originate in a neat and clean politics. In Spain, reformers implemented a liberal constitution (in 1812), which made many elites in Mexico reconsider their support of Spain. For example, the clergy in New Spain (as pre-independence Mexico was called) would have lost power under the Spanish liberal program. As in the United States, Mexico’s domestic popular and political classes wrestled with the costs and benefits from independence.
  • The 1846–48 Mexican War with the United States, called President Polk’s War by U.S.-American opponents of this war with Mexico, redrew the political map of North America, effectively destroying Mexico as a powerful nation and bringing California and the Southwest into the United States.
  • Mexico abolished slavery in 1829 when Texas was still part of the country, prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they re-legalized slavery. Later, the U.S. pressed Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had compelled free states to return escapees to plantations of the American South. The U.S. wanted to extend this measure to escaped slaves harbored in Mexico. Mexico refused to sign such a treaty insisting that all enslaved people were free when they set foot on Mexican soil.
  • While we were engaged in the War Between the States (1861–1865), or the American Civil War, European powers effected a short-lived regime change in Mexico in this way: in the winter of 1861, France with coalition partners Spain and the United Kingdom, invaded the Mexican Republic, ostensibly to collect debts. To consolidate this hostile takeover, France’s Napoleon III invited Austria’s Maximilian to establish a new pro-French Mexican monarchy. A group of Conservative Party monarchists hostile to the Liberal Party administration of the new Mexican president, Benito Juárez, were enlisted to create a democratic pretext for this hostile takeover. On April 10, 1864, Maximilian was installed as Emperor of Mexico. With the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States shifted to aiding Juárez’s forces. French armies withdrew from Mexico in 1866. Emperor Maximilian I was captured and executed by the Mexican government, which then restored the Mexican Republic.

Common Threat

In any place and crisis in the world, there’s an economic underpinning to peace and war. Prosperity encourages stability, contentment and generosity. Austerity breeds discontent, mistrust and violence. In our global financial economy, austerity rules the peoples of the United States and Mexico, through a bailout that has obligated national resources to guaranteeing the solvency of a speculative financial system, a NAFTA free-trade dictate of national economies, and post 9–11 enforcement arm. The logic of peace requires prosperity to reach into every crack and corner of our societies. The development of the agricultural, industrial and educational means of production among Mexico, the nations of Central America and the United States offers the best practicum for managing internal and cross-border affairs among them. Our peoples need to join hands in this work.

But it’s not easy — not with public and private capital jockeying to advantages.

As reported in the National Law Review on August 16, 2019:

Projects promoted by the states in Northern and Central Mexico are likely to face two primary challenges in the coming six years. First, they will experience reduced federal funding. In Mexico, major infrastructure projects promoted by a state require federal funding or a mix of federal and private investment, because [taken together] the project’s revenues, funds of the states and local private investment tend to be insufficient to support such projects. Second, the lack of resources available to the state governments creates a barrier to the states’ access to funding. Major infrastructure projects require feasibility studies, technical analyses, economic and financial modeling, as well as regulatory, structuring and other legal analysis. Many states do not have access to such resources locally or the funds to import them.

Conclusion

No Chief Executive is the sum total of the presidency. Among the powers informing any presidency, though difficult, is the possibility of mobilizing our people to make use of an unusual opening in history. Along with campaign finance reform, health care for all, a thriving public education system, and an audit of the financial system, breaking open a U.S.-Mexico infrastructure economy is worth our effort. It will be a game-changer.

It seems to me, breaking open a U.S.-Mexico infrastructure economy begins with breaking the silent treatment of President Obrador’s initiative. Relevant people have to know that this matters. Then we might organize a network. Here’s a possible start:

  • Consulate General of Mexico in Portland: (503) 274–1442
  • Senator Jeff Merkley: (503) 326–3386 PDX; (202) 224–3753 DC
  • NW Labor Press: 503–288–331; senior staff writer Don McIntosh: don@nwlaborpress.org
  • Unite Oregon, Multnomah County: (503) 287–4117
  • U.S. State Dept. 1-202-647–6575; 1–202–647–4000.

County Democrat Reader

Of, by, and for Multnomah County Democrats

Sam Kahl

Written by

Sam Kahl

I like to hear and tell stories, in person and in history. capture and dig into the long arcs of economy and foreign policy, trust nothing that enters my mind.

County Democrat Reader

Of, by, and for Multnomah County Democrats

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade