“President Trump Needs Mexico, Mucho”
Surprise! The Trump Administration admits that Mexico is not as bad as Donald Trump said the day he announced for President. Then he declared that Mexico was not sending “its best” people to America and that those coming were “criminals,” “rapists,” and “drug smugglers.”
Additionally, he declared Mexico to be a thief of American treasure and jobs by imposing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the United States so it could steal billions of dollars and millions of jobs. Trump repeatedly flogged these declarations to his supporters who jammed stadiums and sports arenas to chant “Mexico” when he bellowed he was going to build a “beautiful wall” on the border and, he would ask,”Who is going to pay for it?”
Well, no more.
Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord, a Trump-approved appointee at the Department of Defense publicly asked Mexico to reverse its national order to shut down non-essential businesses and activities like most American states have done. Done to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus which has killed over 70,000 Americans in six weeks.
She asked Mexico to open up factories on the border. She unequivocally declared that those border factories must open or the multi-decade constructed supply chains of the American, Mexican and Canadian auto industry and of American “national defense contractors” would be severely damaged, maybe even destroyed.
Mexico, like the Trump Administration, slowly reacted to the corona virus invasion from Europe and China despite the White House being warned. U.S. intelligence agencies warned that China was covering up its virus attack. White House trade advisor Peter Navarro prescientally warned the White House staff about a dire American future caused by the virus; he wrote a warning memo in January, before a single American died from the coronavirus.
Little was done in February by President Trump, who told the U.S. the problem would go away when the weather warmed. Lopez Obrador was hugging and kissing people he met as is traditional with Mexican politicos as well as Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
American state governors bravely ordered school and business lockdowns of non-essential business activities, plus personal spacing. Mexico followed suit.
Non-essential factories in Mexico were shut down. Much of Mexican factory activities are on the border with the U.S. They are descended from the 1965 Mexican industrial paradigm that Mexico created by allowing Mexican factories to bring raw material from the United States tariff-free for finishing or assembly into tariff-free finished products shipped to the U.S., tariff-free except on the minuscule costs of the Mexican labor involved.
That 1965 industrial effort was created to fill the gap in legal employment created by the closing of the 20 year-old “Bracero” program that allowed millions of Mexicans to legally work in U.S. agriculture.
Mexico needed jobs to replace the “Bracero” jobs, thus the new program; it was called the “Maquiladora” program. Maquiladora comes from the Spanish word “maquila” which means “mill,” like a flour mill that takes in raw wheat and produces baking flour.
That industry flourished; labels “Assembled in Mexico”were on products everywhere in the U.S. From that start, today’s border factory complex stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico along the 1900 mile border on both sides. Many are called “twin plants” with Mexican factories making products like flat screen televisions and 500 yards away in the U.S. — distribution centers and marketing/ administrative offices of the television companies.
American defense industries discovered that many products they include in defense equipment and essential elements like wire harnessing in missile guidance systems could be done well and cheaper in Tijuana, Nogales or Ciudad Juarez on the Mexican side of the border. Labor intensive work went south.
Ditto much production of parts for American and Canadian auto plants. With almost two dozen carmakers building cars in Mexico, a supply chain quickly emerged in Mexico to supply those Mexican car makers/assemblers and those of the U.S. and Canada, including brands like Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, VW, Toyota, Ford, GM, Chrysler (Fiat) and Tesla.
Thousands of parts go into individual cars. No single company can manufacture every part for the cars it builds. Thus, hundreds, if not thousands, of factories produce individual parts. The same is true for many aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, for example, America’s largest exporter.
Baja California, Mexico, had 1,700,000 industrial workers on the day the shutdown was ordered. All but a few were furloughed for the duration. Thanks to the Trump Administration, 40,000 Mexican workers in 100 Baja factories are back on the job.
They have one word for their new hero, Donald Trump — Gracias.