A growing anti-Trump sentiment in Mexico has fueled the rise of the leftist presidential candidate who polls now show as the front-runner in Mexico’s upcoming 2018 presidential election, according to Reuters.
Mexicans’ opinion on America sours
In 2015, Mexicans held a favorable view of the United States by a margin of 66 percent compared to only 29 percent unfavorable. As of October 2017, that had shifted to 65 percent unfavorable and 30 percent favorable.
Enter Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement, a veteran politician who has vowed to “put [Trump] in his place.”
While other candidates have tried to establish strong positions against Trump, Lopez Obrador benefits most because the Mexican left has already staked out that position.
“The feeling’s there: you trusted these guys (the United States), and they turned on you like the left have been saying for God knows how long,” said former federal congressman Agustin Barrios Gomez. “And that plays to Andres Manuel’s strengths because he doesn’t have to say anything.”
Lopez Obrador has promised that, as president, he would let Trump know what he thought on Twitter and fight back against the president's criticisms.
Trump’s continuing attacks
A primary factor in the deterioration of the U.S.’s standing in Mexico has been the rhetoric of President Donald Trump.
Trump has, since his campaign, spoken harshly about Mexico, blaming the country for an influx of drugs and illegal immigrant criminals, and insisting that Mexico will pay for a border wall.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted this:
We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of dr… https://t.co/wlyEE41v2w— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1516281386.0
Crucial NAFTA negotiations
Another point of contention is the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has threatened to withdraw from if it is not significantly reworked to protect American interests more.
A U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA could have a significantly negative impact on Mexico’s economy. More than 80 percent of Mexican exports go to the United States.
Trump has called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever made.”
What does the future hold?
While there is no expected threat that anti-American anger in Mexico could lead to significant conflict, a former Mexican congressman and consul general of Mexico in Chicago warned of how detrimental it could be.
“I’m not saying we’re heading for war with the United States, because Mexico is pacifist,” said Heriberto Galindo. “But President Donald Trump is causing a lot of anger among Mexicans … and a negative attitude toward the United States, which is not helpful, beneficial or healthy, least of all with a neighboring country.”