By Matthew Ehret
Donald Trump has been given a golden opportunity to work with China and Latin America on great infrastructure projects that could reshape the world and he has tragically dropped the ball.
On May 31st, President Trump decided to display a visionless foreign policy towards Mexico by threatening punitive tariffs on all Mexican imports starting at 5% which will kick in on June 10 and rise by 5% each month until 25% tariffs are hit on October 1st. Trump lashed out at Mexico on June 2nd saying “The problem is that Mexico is an ‘abuser’ of the United States, taking but never giving. It has been this way for decades”. Trump said that his tariff policy would only be reversed on the condition that Mexico cracks down on drug dealers and illegal immigration across the 3000 meter border separating the two nations.
The Fallacy of Trump’s Tariff
While it is every nation’s sovereign right and even duty to use a protective tariff in defense of national interests, Trump’s use of it in the case of Mexico is completely unfitting and misdiagnoses the entire nature of the crisis now unfolding.
In 2018 Mexico exported $346.5 billion in goods to the USA and imported $265 billion. The problem is that 81% of the Mexican exports came from maquiladora sweatshops along the American border which is the effect of a 40 year policy of globalization utilizing cheap Mexican labor which can only remain cheap by keeping infrastructure under developed, technology backwards and nations under debt enslavement to a financial oligarchy. While America certainly suffered by losing its industrial sector to outsourcing, Mexico did not gain, as its sovereign right to develop an advanced industrial sector and high standard of living was sabotaged by becoming a slave labour camp of the south.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed disappointment at this strong arm tactic as negotiations had been underway for over a year between America and Mexico to strike together at the root of the immigration crisis: through the construction of vital infrastructure centering on rail lines, ports, electrification, and water sanitation.
President Obrador responded in a letter to Trump saying: “Let me state that I do not want confrontation… People don’t abandon their own people out of choice but out of necessity. That is why, from the beginning of my government, I proposed to you to choose cooperation for development to help Central American nations with productive investments to create employment and solve the underlying painful problem.”
The Mexico Central America Development Plan
The specific project which Obrador has been fighting for (and which Trump had endorsed on record) is a $40 billion infrastructure initiative known as the Mexico/Central America Development Plan involving southern Mexico and the “northern triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras which would see the construction of a cross Isthmus and North-South railroad system and ports along with a new electricity grid and agro industrial developments for all four nations. The importance of incorporating the northern triangle nations cannot be overstated as 14% of the 280 000 illegal immigrants apprehended by US Border Patrol in 2018 were from the northern triangle.
In November 2018, Obrador and Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard had called this a “Marshall Plan for Latin America” with Ebrard stating that without this “it will be impossible to deal with the immigration problem.” Trump’s tariffs come as a betrayal as Ebrard had described positive meetings in Washington on May 23 with the State Department and White House and had earlier received a $5.8 billion commitment from the USA on the plan.
The New Silk Road Comes to Latin America
In the wake of the April 2019 Belt and Road conference in Beijing, the China Dialogue journal wrote “The rapid commercial expansion means China now sees Latin America as a natural extension of its Belt and Road Connectivity Initiative which originally encompassed Europe and Asia when launched in 2013, but which 18 [Latin American] countries have now endorsed.”
Since 2009, China-Latin American trade grew twenty times with Chinese infrastructure investments outdoing the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and CAF Development Bank of Latin America COMBINED. Even though various attempts by the biggest Latin American nations to break free of Anglo-American controls in order to work with China’s BRI have been thwarted at various moments, major infrastructure projects on nuclear, hydro power, mining, ports and rail have gone ahead in all three nations with offers to join the BRI available at all times.
The Revival of Lopez Portillo’s Fight
It is a useful moment to review this historical fight now being re-awakened by the Obrador infrastructure plan and the broader Belt and Road Initiative which is quickly ushering a program which Mexico had once come close to nearly 40 years ago.
Prior to the election of Lopez Obrador, the last genuine nationalist President of Mexico was Lopez Portillo (1976-1983) who battled valiantly against the financial predators of Wall Street and London in order to resist the economic warfare that was being unleashed on Mexico under the guiding hand of Sir Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Both Kissinger and Brzezinski were leading agents of Britain’s “hand in America” known as the Council on Foreign Relations (aka: Chatham House) who together made population control an “official component” of America’s foreign policy. Kissinger first did this with his National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) in December 1974 and Brzezinski followed suite, while acting as National Security Advisor openly endorsing the “Paddock Plan” for depopulation. In both plans, Mexico was a prime target.
The NSSM 200 (titled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests”) outlined its objective “Assistance for population moderation should give emphasis to the largest and fastest growing developing countries where there is a special US and strategic interest”. Of the 13 countries targeted, Mexico was at the top. Among the top remedies to population growth, NSSM-200 listed birth control and the withholding of food. Kissinger wrote: “is the US prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can’t/won’t control their population growth?”
Brzezinski’s open endorsement of William Paddock’s 1975 plan for Mexican depopulation took this genocidal agenda to another level. William Paddock was a member of the Club of Rome and founder of the Environmental Fund in 1973 which led the way in a new Malthusian revival that arose in the wake of the assassinations of key moral leaders in America during the 1960s and the 1971 floating of the US dollar.
In an interview with EIR magazine in 1975, Paddock described his bestial solution for Mexico whose population he believed should be cut by half in the following terms: “seal the border and watch them scream”. When asked what he thought of scientific and technological innovation as a solution to the overpopulation, Paddock said “US agro-scientific organizations [should] deny research to countries that could not get their population growth under control. If you do anything to increase food production through more agricultural technology all you are doing is increasing future suffering because there will be more people, population will expand to absorb that food and the results will be a greater disaster… growth is something you have to stop. No alternative.”
Portillo did battle against this multi-headed hydra of currency speculation/debt slavery on the one side and neo-Malthusianism on the other. While one head masqueraded as a “new monetarist right” the other took the form of the “new anti-technological growth left”. Both had the same blood curdling effect.
The Fight for a New System
Standing defiantly against the newly emerging empire, Portillo nationalised the banks and much of the oil while preparing for capital controls to combat speculation, and maneuvered to use Mexico’s oil revenues to maximize advanced technological growth in agriculture and nuclear energy. Portillo worked closely with non-aligned movement leaders who had recently called openly for a “new just financial architecture” in 1975 announced by Guyana’s Finance Minister Fred Wills at the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking at the UN on October 1st, 1982 Portillo said:
The most constant concern and activity of Mexico in the international arena, is the transition to a New Economic Order…. We developing countries do not want to be subjugated. We cannot paralyze our economies or plunge our peoples into greater misery in order to pay a debt on which servicing tripled without our participation or responsibility, and with terms that are imposed upon us. We countries of the South are about to run out of playing chips, and were we not able to stay in the game, it would end in defeat for everyone. I want to be emphatic: We countries of the South have not sinned against the world economy. Our efforts to grow, in order to conquer hunger, disease, ignorance, and dependency, have not caused the international crisis….
We have been a living example of what occurs when an enormous, volatile, and speculative mass of capital goes all over the world in search of high interest rates, tax havens, and supposed political and exchange stability. It decapitalizes entire countries and leaves destruction in its wake. The world should be able to control this; it is inconceivable that we cannot find a formula that, without limiting necessary movements and flows, would permit regulation of a phenomenon that damages everyone. It is imperative that the New International Economic Order establish a link between refinancing the development of countries that suffer capital flight, and the capital that has fled.
The reduction of available credit for developing countries has serious implications, not only for the countries themselves, but also for production and employment in the industrial countries. Let us not continue in this vicious circle: it could be the beginning of a new medieval Dark Age, without the possibility of a Renaissance….”
Portillo led the charge to use the best weapon which Latin American countries had against the financial oligarchy: The Debt bomb. Threatening to use this sovereign right to not pay unjust debts, Portillo had arranged for other Latin American nations to stand in solidarity to wield this collective power. But when Brazil and Argentina succumbed to international pressure, Portillo was left standing alone and was taken down.
It is an interesting point of history to note that both Fred Wills and Lopez Portillo were both profoundly influenced by American Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche. After surviving 5 assassination attempts Fred Wills moved to Virginia and spent his remaining years campaigning for the Schiller Institutewhile Portillo described in 1998 how it was LaRouche and his wife Helga (who now runs the Schiller Institute) who gave him the solution to fight the international financial oligarchy when they met in Mexico in 1982 calling at the end of his speech “for the world to now listen to the wise words of Lyndon LaRouche”.
Although Mexico was punished for the next 35 years for Portillo’s defiance, a second chance to fulfill Portillo’s mission has emerged.
Can Trump Break from the Tragedy?
By turning away from the deeper systemic root of the crisis, Trump is losing a valuable opportunity to deal with the Deep State that has put so much effort into his undoing since the 2016 election. The entire Anglo-American structure which has induced America to act like the “dumb giant” for London over the past 60 years is at its weakest as its financial system is in shambles and a new paradigm of cooperation centered around the Russia-China alliance and international Belt and Road Initiative has opened the door for a new global system. This is a system which has extended an olive branch to America and is desperately waiting for its acceptance.
President Obrador ended his letter to Trump saying: “President Trump, social problems aren’t resolved with taxes or coercive measures. The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol. With all due respect, even though you have the sovereign right to say it, the slogan “America First” is a fallacy because until the end of times and beyond national borders, universal justice and fraternity shall prevail.”
This article was first published on the Strategic Culture Foundation