SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, says anti-Mexico rhetoric could hurt international trade between the U.S. and its southern neighbor.
The Borderplex Alliance handles economic development for El Paso, Las Cruces and Ciudad Juarez.
Barela was a panelist at the recent 2023 NADBank Summit, sharing the stage with Rio Grande Valley entrepreneur Joaquin Spamer. The panel was titled: Manufacturing and Green Industrial Parks.
Barela said his the Borderplex region has been doing well with near-shoring. However, he said he did not have one big concern.
“If there’s a cloud on the horizon that really, really concerns me – and this is, I think, a significant point for all of us – is that we are coming up to a presidential election year. I’m extremely concerned about the national rhetoric on the US side of the border and and how it will impact us. Comments like invading Mexico to stop the drug cartels; blockading Mexican ports to stop the fentanyl trade from China; using deadly force to stop suspected drug smugglers coming across the border. These comments a few years ago were considered crazy talk. Today, it’s getting normalized in the presidential discourse.”
Barela then considered how ugly political rhetoric can impact trade.
“How does that affect us on trade? We will be doing the six-year review of the USMCA in two short years. And this anti-Mexico rhetoric is potentially poisonous. We all have to be on guard for this. It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure that if this type of hateful rhetoric continues, it will probably sponsor nationalistic thought in Mexico in their presidential election. And then the spiral downward continues.”
Barela said he is not predicting this will happen.
“But these types of things are a threat. It could stop the investments in NADBank, especially if things start becoming very nativist in the United States. Clearly, it will have an impact potentially in the Mexican presidential election, this type of talk. And it’s something we all need to be very cognizant of, very aware of, and push back as much as we possibly can.”
Barela added: “If we are not careful this could spin very much out of control. And it has me greatly concerned and it’s something that certainly I’m trying to work on and very, very concerned about.”
Here is an audio recording of everything Barela said at the NADBank Summit:
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