“Presidents Trump and Lopez Obrador of Mexico, Twins”


Mexico is under siege by the same coronavirus that has killed more people in the U.S. in six weeks than were killed during the Vietnam War in ten years.
Hospitals are jammed, not enough qualified people to treat the sick, not enough health equipment to fight the virus with and little help from a government that is slashing its budget while getting clobbered by the oil market crash that is depriving Mexico billions in revenue.
Like President Donald J. Trump, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in January and February, pooh-poohed the onset of a national epidemic caused by the coronavirus. Like Trump, he ignored extensive warnings that the coronavirus could incapacitate the country. Like Trump, he came to the battle with the virus late.
AMLO ordered business shutdowns.. His government classified 18% of the nation’s businesses to be “essential” and they stayed open. Of those declared “non-essential” 87% closed, including the massive auto-manufacturing industry that rolls out cars from 18 factories including the largest Volkswagen plant in North America in Puebla, Mexico.
13% of declared “non-essential” businesses refused to shut down.
Restaurants, bars, beaches, convention centers, schools were shut down. Mexican airlines are carrying only 5% of the passengers they carried last year.
In the Baja California community I live in, there are three restaurants located at the gate into the community. All three are closed with the exception of the Italian restaurant that is preparing food for takeout or delivery. Its food is terrific but we can’t eat there now with its 180-degree ocean view, excellent food and Mexican beer. I can’t walk my dogs on our beach. The 1500 miles of beach in Baja are shut down.
The shutdown affects everyone. President Trump limited border crossings into the U.S. to cut the number of Mexicans crossing into the U.S. The busiest border crossing in the U.S. is normally between Tijuana and San Diego, California. Few Mexican license plates can now be seen in the traffic lanes at the border crossing. The U.S. shopping malls on the border are shut down. Border crossing traffic lanes have been cut by two-thirds so that two-hour waits are common now to enter the U.S. Even the rapid Sentri lanes where Sentri Preferred Traveler cardholders are vetted by the U.S. government have been downsized in number so what used to take 10-15 minutes now is 45 or more minutes. Few Mexicans are crossing, crossers are almost exclusively U.S. citizens like me.
But it’s not only individual Mexicans or Americans like me who are inconvenienced, but apparently, the United States government is also.
Ellen Lord, U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, raises concerns about the Mexican shutdown. She launched an official campaign to get Mexico to reopen plants, suggesting the supply chain of the North American Free Trade Zone (NAFTA) could be permanently damaged if production wasn’t resumed immediately.
Lord posits that Mexico’s border assembly plants are fundamentally important because they are a key to U.S. supply chains for autos and defense contractors. The keywords, defense contractors.
In other words, the national defense of the United States of America is endangered by the shutdown of Mexican plants.
That revelation by the Trump Administration is fascinating. Think of all the bad and ethnically salacious views of Mexico Trump has expressed since the day he announced for President. He berated Mexico, Mexican business, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and, specifically, the Mexican car industry that manufactures, among other things, car engine blocks, transmissions, missile guidance systems, and myriad parts for the American defense industry.
Does that reflect a 180-degree new paradigm of what the Trump Administration thinks of Mexico and its industry?
In Mexico, a similar situation arose this week when AMLO apparently objects to a private industry response to the economic damage clobbering Mexican small and medium-sized businesses.
The InterAmerican Development Bank says there are 4.1 million small and medium-sized businesses in Mexico that contribute 42% of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product and 78% of all jobs in Mexico.
The bank and the Mexican Business Council (60 of Mexico’s largest businesses) have negotiated loans and revolving credit up to $12 billion dollar worth that is available for 30,000 businesses.
President López Obrador appears to oppose the multi-billion dollar credit arrangement that requires no government participation. Meanwhile, AMLO is slashing the Mexican federal budget and up to 17,000 small and medium-sized businesses are expected to take a hit.
AMLO doesn’t like private business. So business suffers, as do millions of Mexicans who do like business and depend on it.