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Mexico Gets Its Own Trump

Of the three main contenders in Mexico’s presidential election, none was as ill-prepared as the winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to manage the bully in the White House. Now Mexicans will have to face the consequences of their choice, just as their country – more than most – must face the consequences of Americans’ choice in 2016.

MEXICO CITY – US President Donald Trump has been the world’s worst headache for the past 18 months, and arguably no country has suffered more than Mexico. Of the three main contenders in Mexico’s just-completed presidential election, none was as ill-prepared as the winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador – AMLO, as he is known – to manage the bully in the White House. Nonetheless, the Mexican people have chosen him, and he will have to deal with Trump for much (if not all) of his six years in office.

Mexico’s relations with the United States were not a central campaign topic, nor will they figure among AMLO’s priorities. But they will surely affect Mexicans more than most other issues.

There are similarities between AMLO and Trump. Both appear to be sincere economic nationalists: Trump hopes to make the US self-sufficient in aluminum and steel, while AMLO seeks the same for Mexico in corn, wheat, beef, pork, and lumber. Both disapprove of trade treaties, although they temper their aversion with pragmatic selectivity: Trump left the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but not the North American Free Trade Agreement (for now), while AMLO says he will continue to re-negotiate NAFTA with the US and Canada along the lines pursued by the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

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