The State Department announced on Wednesday that Rex Tillerson will travel to Mexico sometime in the next few weeks. Although the date of his visit and the topics of discussion have not been released, it’s likely they will continue the talks that the Secretary of State held with Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
In a statement, acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that Tillerson’s conversation with his Mexican counterpart was “constructive” and that the discussion focused on issues “including law enforcement, migration and security.”
What would normally be a fairly routine visit for the United States’ top diplomat looks to be anything but as the trip comes at a time of newly strained relations between Washington and one of its closest allies. President Trump’s executive order on immigration and the border wall and his fiery rhetoric on issues ranging from border security to free trade have caused major blowback south of the border and iced over the once warm diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Experts contend that Tillerson – the former CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil – has a difficult task ahead of him as he will have to espouse the Trump administration’s policies while also attempting to assuage the concerns of a wary Mexican government.
“It is clear that there is a need for significant behind-the-scenes work to put the U.S.-Mexico relationship back on solid footing,” Jason Marczak, the director of the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, told Fox News. “It’s going to be a tough balancing act that Tillerson will have to walk with Mexico.”
One of the big topics of conversation that Tillerson is expected to address during his trip south is the border wall and Trump’s assertion that Mexico will pay for it.
Trump’s executive order on immigration and the wall irked Peña Nieto so much that he scrapped a planned Jan. 31 trip to Washington. A phone conversation between the two world leaders late last month was meant to patch up the touchy relations, but media reports from a leaked transcript of the call show Trump threatening to send U.S. troops to stop the “bad hombres down there” and humiliating Peña Nieto.
“There is going to be a lot of relationship fixing with Mexico,” Marczak said. “The historical legacy on the Mexican side is one of mistrust and skepticism of the U.S. and it’s a real possibility that Mexico could fall back into that mindset.”
Tillerson’s visit will not just consist of playing diplomatic peacemaker, but could also focus on areas of mutual interest between the U.S. and Mexico – namely when it comes to combatting drug cartels and migration from Central America.
“Tillerson needs to go in there and ask how the U.S. can help the state and federal police combat the drug trade,” Nelson Balido, the CEO of the Border Commerce and Security Council, told Fox News. “He also needs to ask Mexico how the U.S. can help Mexico secure its own southern border.”
“We need to help them stop the drugs from entering the U.S., but we also need to clamp down on weapons going southbound,” Balido said. “I’m a big supporter of the Second Amendment, but most of the weapons that end up in the hands of the cartels come from the U.S.”
First – let’s stipulate that relations with Mexico are a bit strained. The reason for that is because O coddled them while standing at our back door like the new Walmart greeter, welcoming all who illegally crossed over our southern border. Then along comes President Trump, whose intent is to secure our borders, stop the flow of traffic, and has been plainly outspoken about it.
Second – speaking of ‘hombres’, let’s talk about Jason Marczak, the director of the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at blah blah blah, and Nelson Balido, the CEO of the Border Commerce and Security Council, the two ‘experts’ who stated their suggestions for Tillerson’s approach.
Marczak’s bio states that he joined the Atlantic Council in October 2013 to help launch the Arsht Center. With Marczak’s co-leadership, the Center has become known for its insight on the transforming Latin America and the region’s strategic role in the global community, including its groundbreaking polling work on US attitudes toward Cuba.
Balido’s job came about during Rick Perry’s term as governor of Texas. The Border Security Council was created in Senate Bill 11 of the 80th Legislative Session to advise the Governor on the allocation of state homeland security funds.
The mission of the Border Security Council is to aid the Governor in strengthening the security of the Texas/ Mexico border. The Council is charged with the following: 1) Recommending performance standards, reporting requirements, audit methods and other procedures for homeland security funding allocation and use; and 2) Advising Governor Rick Perry on the allocation of the funds.
My reason for pointing out these guys is because neither of them have our security foremost in their minds – Marczak wants the world to be one big happy family singing Kumbaya and Balido worked for Rick Perry and now sees himself worthy of giving advice to Tillerson. Somebody with more than two brain cells needs to remind him that we already helped Mexico secure their southern border.
In my view there’s no ‘balancing act’ and there’s no need to ‘fix relationships’ since we’ve done nothing to offend Mexico. Aside from a few harsh words from Trump, which they’d better get used to, we’ve been the ally that’s put the most into the relationship.
After kowtowing to them for eight years, we finally have leadership in place that should be calling the shots, so Tillerson’s stance should be clear as to our intentions and let Mexico figure out how to deal with it.
Neither of these guys have noticed that Trump doesn’t operate like O did, and it’s likely Mexico is about to learn the same lesson.