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The USA as a pressure valve for Mexico



Flag of Mexico, country of refugees. (Or can a new President fight corruption by removing disrespected laws?) Trump replaced NAFTA with a new bilateral agreement. But why do so many of Trump's opponents fly the Mexican flag, anyway? Besides: Mexican immigration law is a lot harsher than ours.

Hello, this is Darrell Castle with today’s Castle Report. Today I will again turn my attention to the subject of migration and immigration. Because of the recent elections in that country I will look primarily at Mexico.

Violence in Mexico

Why do so many millions of Mexican people want to risk danger and bear the expense and hardship of coming to the United States illegally? There are many reasons, of course, but the primary reason is most likely the extreme violence, poor living conditions, and lack of opportunity caused by the drug cartels’ decades’ long wars between each other, and with the Mexican and American governments. It stands to reason then, that the migrants or immigrants must believe that life will be better in the United States than it was in their own country. If drug cartel violence really is the primary force driving people north then it also stands to reason that if the violence is reduced and the cartels weakened then migration will at least slow down.

On July 1st Mexico elected as President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, by an overwhelming vote. In a record turnout 53% voted for Mr. Obrador. News reports coming out of Mexico prior to the election indicated that people were upset at what they considered the impotence of the government of previous President Pena Nieto, along with his total inability to stop or even slow cartel activity. Crime is rampant, especially the crimes of kidnapping and murder, which Mr. Nieto seemed powerless to solve or prevent.

A new President and his mission

Mr. Obrador will take office December 1st and mission number one will be to insure that he convinces the Mexican people, and especially the business class, that progress will be made against cartel violence. He says he wants to try innovative solutions, such as reversing the 1938 nationalization of the petroleum industry.

Some other things he wants are to eliminate political immunity and other such privileges to government officials, as well as including corruption, petroleum theft and electoral fraud on the list of crimes for which there is no bail; moving the Mexican Secret Service to the Department of Defense, thus allowing for a less corrupt way of protecting those trying to defeat the cartels; establishing a right to free public education; establishing an avenue of impeachment of the President similar to the US Constitution; cutting the VAT tax by 50% in the northern border zone. These things are attacks on corruption and government immunity from it that now chokes Mexico and creates an atmosphere of distrust.

Legalizing drugs to take the profit out of them

By far, the biggest task before his government is stopping the cartels and regaining control of the country. He assigned that task to incoming interior minister Olga Sanchez Cordero and she says that she has carte blanche authority to try whatever seems necessary to stop the violence, and ending the drug wars is at the top of the list. Ms. Cordero has some very solid opinions about the drug wars and the damage they have caused. “What no one can deny with hard data is that, at least in the past 10 years, the Mexican government has been incapable of stopping violence and responding to it with institutional mechanisms.”

Ms. Cordero is seriously considering the decriminalization of all drugs as one of her government’s prime weapons against the cartels. She believes that making drugs essentially legal would end the black market for production and would end the wars between rival cartels.

The steady increase in violent crime over the past few decades is directly related to the escalation of the war on drugs both in Mexico and the United States. I’m trying to reason through how legalizing drugs in Mexico would help the United States, since the market for the Mexican drugs is the United States demand. Mexico is now the world leader in the production of fentanyl, which is largely responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic in the United States. Wouldn’t it be necessary for the United States to take joint action with Mexico in order to make the plan work?

The Portuguese experience

Portugal is usually cited as the poster child for how legalization can reverse the problematic decline of a society. Portugal once had a terrible problem with addiction until all drugs were legalized and then the rates of addiction fell dramatically. Addiction was not the only thing affected in a positive way in Portugal, however. The rates of violent crime fell as did the rates of infections, such as HIV, from the use of dirty needles. The police state practices of police authorities are not nearly as much of a problem now as it once was previously.

In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to legalize drugs and the numbers suggest that the Portuguese society has been improved as a result. Portugal is one of the very few countries in Europe that I have not visited but I have been told by a friend who visits quite often that it is one of the most beautiful and safest countries in Europe.

Donald Trump’s Mexico dilemma

I don’t know if President Trump bought into all this or not, but he has been very friendly with Mr. Obrador since the election. He tweeted his congratulations and followed up the next day with a friendly phone call. The week after, three U.S. cabinet secretaries, along with senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, went to Mexico City to meet their counter parts and the president-elect.

Positive relations ahead for the two countries, maybe, but there is much to be discussed and resolved before real economic advancement for the Mexican people can be made. Time will tell whether or not president Trump has any interest in putting U.S. taxpayer money into rebuilding Mexico while the Mexican government attempts to deal with the cartels.

Mr. Obrador has ambitious plans, though, and that’s for sure. Plans such as planting 1 million hectares of trees in Mexico’s most poverty ridden states, building two new refineries, building a high speed bullet train, and a rail link across the southern part of the country to compete with the Panama Canal. Will President Trump be interested in helping financially with rebuilding Mexico’s infrastructure? If he is, under what theory would he rebuild Mexico when America has significant infrastructure problems? I doubt if Mr. Obrador will get much positive response to such requests, but if he does I suppose it will be under the theory that in the long run it is cost effective if it reduces migration.

The migration problem

He is pro-NAFTA and has a team negotiating with the old administration to continue talks already started regarding continuing the agreement. In the area of migration, the United States has been pushing for an asylum agreement whereby migrants from Central and South America passing through Mexico would be required to request asylum there rather than continuing on to the United States. That would help greatly with U.S. problems because then every asylum seeker could be turned back at the US border instead of being admitted as they currently are.

In Europe, the European countries being overrun by Middle Eastern migrants have tried the pay tribute method  by paying billions of dollars to Turkey to stop and hold a few million of them in Turkey, and along the Turkish border with Syria. It’s easier, I guess, to just pay the tribute than it is to develop the courage and will to defend your own country. It might even make economic sense, since each migrant supposedly costs the host country $50,000 as soon as he or she crosses the border. Mr. Trump, however, has shown no inclination to pay tribute, and Mexico’s new president likewise seems content to continue using the United States as a safety valve for its problems.

Migration as the safety valve

Mr. Obrador was mayor of Mexico City before being elected President so he went from running a city of 18 million to running a country of 120 million, so we’ll see how it works out. Right now he is being rather adamant that he would like to keep the flow of migrants heading north or even increase the flow. The United States puts its problems in prison or on welfare for life, but Mexico sends them north. Northward migration is the safety valve for Mexico and Central America. Those countries don’t have to change because they have no incentive to change. The results of their corruption, incompetence, and failed systems simply head north to America.

America welcomes them, according to George w. Bush, to do the jobs Americans won’t do. According to the prevailing narrative, somehow a few years ago Americans decided to stop working. Young people supposedly won’t take jobs anymore and the middle class is non-existent, so we must have low wage migrants. That’s the story, but its nonsense because under a free market system the jobs should increase in value until someone accepts and wants them. Part of off-shoring and middle class destruction is giving all the big donors to the various political parties what they want which is low wage labor from third world countries.

Building up Mexico instead

I’ll give Mr. Obrador the benefit of the doubt for now and wish him the best. Perhaps, if he can end cartel violence, legalize drugs, reduce corruption, reduce government immunity from criminal charges, build refineries, privatize the petroleum industry, build high-speed rail, invent a right to free education, and reduce taxes at the same time; if he, with or without America’s assistance, can accomplish all those things perhaps he will make Mexico great again.

I know what you’re thinking; when was Mexico great? I’ll take the view that before we declared war on drugs thus launching the cartel wars, it was a pretty good country. If he makes Mexico great again, then perhaps Mexican people living in America will return to their homeland to participate in the economic revival. If Mr. Obrador and Mr. Trump can do that I’ll be impressed.

At least that’s the way I see it.

Until next time folks,

This is Darrell Castle.

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Attorney at Law at | Website | + posts

Darrell Castle is an attorney in Memphis, Tennessee, a former USMC Combat Officer, 2008 Vice Presidential nominee, and 2016 Presidential nominee. Darrell gives his unique analysis of current national and international events from a historical and constitutional perspective. You can subscribe to Darrell's weekly podcast at

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