Our bilingual neighbor to the north, Canada, was missing from the recent visit to the White House by the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuél López Obrador (AMLO).  

And, yes, so many accents in his Spanish name, but, hey, we can all learn, we can all walk and chew gum. It is not so hard. And, for President Trump, is Andrés now “Andy”? The visit was so cordial.

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, had to decline the invitation. It was for a dinner to celebrate the previous signing (2018) of the USMCA, or US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, regarding trade among the three neighbors. Official reason? “scheduling conflicts.” More likely reason: Trudeau, whose wife has CV, whose country’s border is closed, would have had to self-quarantine, by Canadian law, for 12 days after the visit. 

As often happens, this periodical led with analysis of the visit and connected issues; viz: Duncan Wood, Director, Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, “A Storm’s Coming for Mexico,” for The Hill, reprinted, Rio Grande Guardian, International News Service, USMCA Special Edition, 6 Jul 20; Dayna Reyes, “Trump, López Tout Cooperation,” Rio Grande Guardian, 9 Jul 20. 

Others (NY Times, et. al.) joined in; none could quite believe the white lies from AMLO: “I thank Donald Trump for his kindness.” The best spin was, in effect, a shout out to AMLO for his restraint. (“I will represent with dignity;” he and Trump placed wreaths at the Lincoln Memorial and at a statue of famous 19th century indigenous President, Beníto Juárez.)  

All quite bizarre: AMLO, a long-time populist and leftist; Trump the most xenophobic of US presidents. The agreement itself? It expedites business transactions on both borders. But many critics allege it mostly favors US big business. (There are some slight, new gains in wages for labor.) 

Will USMCA and the pomp work as a sop to Mexican American voters Trump hopes to court? (Aljazeera joked about this odd “bromance” between Trump and AMLO.) That, apparently, was one of the reasons for the meeting at this difficult, CV-time. And will AMLO’s startling subservience hurt him further as he struggles to retain favor with the masses? Cartel violence is up, even in a time of CV. The Mexican economy is in a slump. Mexican elites are caught; they despise AMLO, but favor Trump and court US favor (Carlos Slim and other billionaires were in the audience; I’m sure many were biting their tongues.) Now, let’s wait and see; how many of the group will contact CV? Neither AMLO nor Trump wear masks. You can’t fool Mother Nature!

Meanwhile, Trudeau is safer. (With Harry Belafonte, I say “Merci bon Dieu”.) But, wherefore Canada? Perhaps a bit better off, with or without Trudeau in attendance. That is, normal trade and tourism between the two countries will be restored, when a vaccine is discovered. But, for now, Trudeau’s “pointed rebuke” (David M. Shribman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Jul 20) comes at a time when all “non essential” travel is closed; only three percent of Canadians say “open up the border.” 

To add to the scene, Trump still threatens Canada with tariffs on aluminum. Relations between the two countries, which should be good, have crumbled as Trump insults old allies. On the other hand, relations between Canada and Mexico are good; they seem to understand each is in a vulnerable place, vis a vis Trump and the dominant US regime and market.

Canada was missing, with good reason, from the White House luncheon. But her economy is strong and she is managing her COVID-19 well (Zack Beauchamp, “Canada Beat the US on CV Because Its Political System Works,” VOX, 4 May 20). Meanwhile, the irony is that Trump’s White House party for Mexico’s AMLO comes after his previous rants about Mexicans as “rapists and criminals,” his threat of a Wall, and his separation of children from families at the border. Can an elegant dinner party smooth all that over?  

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above op-ed shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

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