By Austin P. Taylor
As Mexico celebrates a century of modern government, the first few weeks of President Donald J. Trump’s administration have tested Mexico’s relationship with the U.S., said Julian Castro, former San Antonio mayor, Feb. 3 at St. Mary’s University.
“Centennial of the Constitution of Mexico Celebratory Conference” was hosted by the university’s school of law.
Castro joined visiting professors, Mexico’s former Secretary of Energy and a member of Mexico’s Supreme Court to discuss the political climate between the two countries.
“Our countries have maintained close and unbreakable ties,” Castro said. “Over the past couple of weeks, that relationship has reached a crossroads.”
He was referring to growing tensions between Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico.
During his first week of office, Trump signed an executive order to move forward with his plan to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. He also proposed putting a 20 percent import tax on goods from Mexico.
This prompted Nieto to cancel his trip to the White House, according to The New York Times.
“As of right now, my hope is that the president (Trump) will surround himself with good people,” said Castro, who served as the secretary of housing under President Barack Obama’s administration.
However, he also had some words for the Mexican government. “I believe a sophisticated response from the Mexican government, as well, is important.”
Castro said going forward, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico would need to be built on a foundation of mutual respect.
“This is going to be four years like we haven’t seen in quite some time,” Castro said.
Mexico’s former Secretary of Energy, Ernesto Martens Rebolledo, spoke after Castro. He discussed the discourse going on in Mexico.
“Nineteen percent of our citizens say we need a new constitution,” he said. “It took us 100 years to come back to where we started.”
Rebolledo would later mirror Castro’s opening sentiments: “The best thing we can do is work together to solve the problems of Mexico and the U.S.”
Trump has also targeted the North American Free Trade Agreement, promising to dismantle it throughout his campaign.
Rebolledo was initially opposed to NAFTA before it was approved in 1994 under the Clinton administration.
He said the deal didn’t take the deficits of the involved countries into account, and he believed this would cause the agreement to collapse and harm the nations involved.
However, after seeing this deal at work for more than two decades, Rebolledo now believes otherwise.
“I believe Mexico has benefited greatly, and so has the U.S.,” Rebolledo said.
“While NAFTA has been active, the U.S. has experienced stable economic growth,” he said. However, the nature of free trade has resulted in many jobs going across the border to Mexico.
“Our economies are so closely linked together that we couldn’t take them apart,” Rebolledo said.