Colombia’s Piece of The Amazon

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Deforestation-in-the-Colombian-Amazon-2020-Courtesy-of-the-Monitoring-of-the-Andean-Amazon-Project-MAAP.jpg
This map of deforestation hotspots in the Colombian Amazon shows how concentrated they are in the Caqueta region (and to a lesser degree in Putumayo) and how the indigenous reserves near them are smaller and more fragmented. Credit: Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project/MAAP.

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, with a nickname of  “the lungs of the planet”. It covers an astonishing nine countries, Colombia being one of them. 10% of the Amazon rainforest is in Colombia, which makes up an area of 403,000 square kilometers. The forests are very important to Colombia, as the environment of Colombia is 80% forest.

Deforestation is the biggest threat to the Amazon rainforest, as well as all of the world’s other forests. Each year Colombia loses nearly 200,000 hectares of natural forest. An estimated 100,000 hectares of native forest are illegally cleared every year. Deforestation in Colombia results primarily from small-scale agricultural activities, logging, mining, energy development, infrastructure construction, large-scale agriculture, and the cocaine trade.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is OrcdCspf5QLDK7Ke-ffDMIoVSWxe6LE2TVasfDwyhHwzAPVkk7CR3hyEBL7Jald17qxs0NTsE386A8LkqZXiXGF7fM_FRodPmlDgoCsCsQ5ZXGV3k8aH_gs9CgRhLz2fYVDLOTf6
A view of the National Serranía de Chiribiquete National Park and some of its small tepuis and beautiful landscape. 

On September 21, 1989, The National Serranía de Chiribiquete National Park was reserved. In July 2018, the national park was expanded by more than twice its original size, from 2.7 million hectares to nearly 4.3 million (that’s like adding Northern Ireland to it!), making it the world’s largest tropical rainforest national park.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos welcomed UNESCO’s decision to designate Chiribiquete a heritage site, declaring it “great news for Colombia”. To celebrate the decision and formalise the extension of the park, the president announced his intention to visit the site within the next week of its expansion in July. In addition he vowed to boost the country’s conservation budget with an extra $525m (£398m) to “protect and defend our environment”.

As Chiribiquete is the confluence point of four biogeographical provinces, (Orinoquia, Guyana, Amazonia, and North Andes) not only is it special for having an incredibly diverse ecosystem, but also for its historical importance as well. Some 75,000 rock pictographs have been found on the walls of 60 rock shelters at the foot of table-top mountains or mesas. The portrayals are interpreted as scenes of hunting, battles, dances and ceremonies, all of which are linked to a purported cult of the jaguar, seen as a symbol of power and fertility. Such practices are thought to reflect a coherent system of thousand-year-old sacred beliefs, organizing and explaining the relations between the cosmos, nature and man. The archaeological sites are believed to be accessed even today by uncontacted indigenous groups.

The Union of Traditional Yage Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC) brings together five ethnic groups ­— the Cofán, Inga, Siona, Coreguaje, and Kamëntsá — who practice spiritual ceremonies for individual and community healing based on ayahuasca, or yagé. All five of these Indigenous groups are also classified by Colombia’s Constitutional Court as being at “risk of physical and cultural extermination.” Miguel Evanjuanjoy, advocacy and project manager of UMIYAC, says “As stewards of the Amazon rainforest, we care for the land because it is she who nourishes us spiritually and through her sacred products.”

According to Gaia Amazonas, intact Indigenous groups are key to protecting the Amazon rainforest. The organization recently published the results of 30 years’ worth of data collected by the Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network (RAISG) showing that indigenous-controlled territories lost less than 1% of their forest during that time. That compares with more than 3% forest loss across the Colombian Amazon in general in the same period. Recent research that looked at 245 Indigenous territories in the Amazon over a span of more than 30 years shows that, indeed, indigenous groups are the best stewards of the Amazon rainforest, especially when they have autonomy and full land rights. But environmentalists still struggle to find ways to ensure those rights. For UMIYAC, the answer lies in their ancestral spiritual practices.

While the world is struggling with conserving ecosystems and forest necessary for all life on earth, some places, like Colombia, seem like they are heading in the right direction.

First Nations, Last Place

It’s easy to think about America when it comes to the challenges of indigenous people’s rights, but much like its outspoken neighbor, quiet Canada has had its fair share of struggles when it has come to giving indigenous people- or the First Nations peoples- equal rights and protections under federal law.

Of Canada’s 37.59 million residents, around 1,400,685 million people have some sort of aboriginal identity, according to the 2011 census. While that may seem small, it totals to around 4.3% of Canada’s entire population. However, of that 1,400,685 million, only 851,560 people identify as a part of the First Nations people- Canada’s all-encompassing term for indigenous groups and peoples- representing roughly 60% of the aboriginal identity and around 2.6% of Canada’s total population.

Despite a good portion of the population identifying as some variation of First Nations, Canada has a controversial history when it comes to equality for First Nations peoples. From selling indigenous land to companies without consulting the people of that land, to what is known as Canada’s ‘cultural genocide,’ the brutal state-funded, church-run Indian Residential School systems that systematically stripped indigenous children of their culture, language, and identities. The schools were home to high levels of abuse, rape, and negligence that ended in an estimated 6,000 aboriginal children dying. The schooling system ran from 1876 to 1996, and while modern authorities apologize, it still remains a nasty, oozing sore in Canada’s history.

(One of Canada’s state-funded, church-run Indian Residential School systems)

Currently, one of the largest barriers facing the indigenous people of Canada is the painstakingly slow implementation of protective laws. The laws exist but are yet to be upheld on a wide scale. This includes laws protecting First Nations peoples from corporations, protection of land, strong federal aid, safer child welfare and foster care, and protections against violence against indigenous peoples.

However, while this is still a clear work in progress, in the last few decades, Canada has been working to improve its rather lackluster system and policies regarding the indigenous people of Canada. In 2010, Canada endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007), which was surprising, because although the Declaration passed with 144 countries voting in favor of it, Canada was one of the four nations that voted against it, alongside Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. However, while the document outlines that governments employ the basic needs, or, as quoted from the document itself: “[What] constitute[s] the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples of the world.”

The document also grants indigenous peoples the rights to govern themselves, own property, access to nondiscriminatory education, healthcare, and employment, and even rights as simple as collective and individual rights. While Canada has been slow to implement regulations, particularly protections of the land of First Nations peoples against predatory corporations, the Canadian government has been making efforts to improve their rocky relationship with their indigenous residents.

In addition, in 2016 the Canadian government began a national investigation into the murders and disappearances of indigenous women and girls, a group disproportionately targeted in Canada. Indigenous women and girls are twelve times more likely to be targeted for rape, violence, and kidnapping than any other group in Canada. While Justin Trudeau promised a further action plan that was set for release in June 2020 to prevent the disproportionate murder, rape, abuse, and abductions of First Nations women and girls, the Canadian government has halted the project “citing COVID-19.”

(Indigenous women protest in Quebec for the investigations of murders and disappearances of First Nations women)

In more recent history, COVID-19 struck indigenous communities hard in 2020, although many are back to maintaining a slow decrease in the percentages of cases. One of the main difficulties resulting in a disproportionate amount of infections- not just from COVID-19 but other illnesses such as HIV, Influenza, TB, and HepC- has always been the remoteness of First Nation geographic locations, access to proper housing, clean drinking water, and healthcare. Despite Canada’s long legacy of ignoring or not prioritizing the health of indigenous peoples, they repeated their mistakes in 2020 when they failed to provide any COVID-19 funding or aid at all until indigenous leaders expressed their deep concerns for the endangerment of their people and the growing risks of COVID-19. And when aid finally arrived, the amount allocated to First Nations peoples was a mere 1% of the COVID-19 response budget. Indigenous communities worked hard to allocate the aid evenly and created travel restrictions within their territory, modified many of their traditions, and worked hard to slow the spread of the virus. While ultimately indigenous communities have handled the virus better than the general Canadian public, the lack of initial aid from the government is a sharp reminder that Canada still has a long way to go.

Have things gotten better? Yes. But there is still clearly a long way to go. While it might be easy to see Canada as a gold standard for addressing indigenous rights, that does not erase a history of neglect, and it does not mean the Canadian government’s job is finished. While they seem to be on the right track, to turn eyes away from such a historically challenging and currently pressing issue would be premature.

What’s Next for Donald Trump?

January 6th, 2021, a day expected to be filled with ceremony and fanfare as Congress certifies the result of the 2020 election, will now be regarded as one of the darkest and most destructive in America’s history. The attacks on the Capitol by a group of Trump’s supporters, provoked by the President himself, was an attack on an American principal value: democracy. Donald Trump’s actions in initiating the violence carried out by his supporters through his social media prominence led websites like Facebook and Twitter to block his account. These actions were justified because of Donald Trump’s misuse of his social media stature, which involved promoting conspiracy theories, spreading misinformation and often posing threats. Allowing his account on Twitter to continue running threatened the future of American politics and would incite Trump’s supporters to further continue their violence. An increased nationalistic support for Donald Trump’s agenda and twitter usage would create an increasingly divided America with Trump supporters powered by the President’s social media stature, and it would disregard America’s democratic values. 

Leading up to and following the election, Donald Trump has used twitter to post numerous claims of voter fraud and rigged elections. Though he hardly provided evidence to support his accusations, he successfully riled up his supporters and influenced their beliefs. Trump’s use of Twitter seemed to pose as a distraction from more major issues covered by the media, for example in response to the growing spread of COVID-19, Trump tweeted about the “Obamagate” conspiracy theory, or when the press reported Trump University’s $25m settlement, Trump tweeted about the Hamilton play controversy. While initially, it was thought that Trump’s distractions led to more public interest in the Hamilton Controversy than the Trump University settlement, it’s been later found that Donald Trump’s tweets deliberately divert media sources, such as the New York Times and ABC News, from focusing on issues that can be harmful to him. An example with the Mueller investigation found that increased media coverage about this investigation led to Trump tweeting more about unrelated issues. While this hasn’t been the case for every potentially threatening topic for Trump, it reflects a common political strategy that influences the public and the media on the issues to focus upon, thus heightening his power. Trump’s use of twitter aided him with this strategy in that he can directly influence the public through his immediate access to social media. This may lead future leaders to engage in similar behavior to steer the media narrative in their benefit. 

On Friday January 8th 2021, Twitter permanently suspended the account @realDonaldTrump to prevent “the risk of further incitement of violence”. In a blog posted by Twitter Inc., they explained how their public interest framework, which allows the public to hear directly from world leaders and officials is built upon a principle which Trump has violated. In an overview, Twitter states the specific policy violations that Trump has committed. First mentioned is President Trump’s tweet from January 8th 2021: 

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

 Shortly after, Trump then tweeted: 

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

In the blog, Twitter stated that in the context of recent events, especially the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, the President’s words can be used to incite violence, directly violating the Glorification of Violence policy. They noted that these two tweets of the President’s could  “encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021”, and Twitter reported that there were multiple indicators of this doing so. 

With Donald Trump’s supporters clearly outraged by the banning of his accounts, they will certainly take further action to bring back the platforms the president once had. As Donald Trump’s twitter has been suspended, he has very limited methods of communicating with the public, thus limiting his potential of stopping the democratic proceedings of handing the presidency over to Joe Biden. Donald Trump has seemingly created a personality cult over his past four years of presidency by riling up the nationalistic support of his followers, and it is highly unlikely that Trump’s supporters will see Joe Biden’s inauguration as the end of Donald Trump’s reign.

Rising Issues with Costa Rica’s Nationalism

Costa Rica is a small, yet prosperous nation in Latin America, located between Nicaragua and Panama. In the 19th century, the lands of Costa Rica belonged to many different nations. After gaining independence from Spain, they briefly became part of Mexico. This ended in 1826 when they joined the Central American Federation, before finally claiming complete independence in 1848. With independence comes the pride and patriotism of a country, which soon developed into a stronger sense of nationalism. Shortly after claiming independence, William Walker, an American who rose to power and took control of Nicaragua’s army, attacked the shores of Costa Rica. Juan Santamaria, a drummer of the Costa Rican army, was able to torch a building where Walker’s soldiers resided. This did not kill anybody, but it did scare Walker away from Costa Rica, and Santamaria now stands as the symbol of Costa Rica’s bravery and independence. This tale bolstered Costa Rica’s nationalism, yet it also manifested a hatred for Nicaraguans among the people of Costa Rica. The nationalism in Costa Rica is responsible for increased levels of xenophobia within the nation, and the absence of representation among indigenous tribes.
Since the independence of Costa Rica was claimed and to this day, xenophobia is widespread and proves to be destructive to foreigners. Nicaraguans often get the worst of Costa Rican xenophobia. There is a generalized belief around the country that all crime comes from foreigners, and Costa Ricans are socially and morally above these foreigners. James Dyde is a journalist that has spent many years in Costa Rica. He has picked up on the xenophobia since the day he set foot in the country. Dyde witnessed two police dogs maul a Nicaraguan to death in the streets while the public looked on. Dyde wrote, “As appalling as that was, I remember being more appalled by the jokes about it. People laughed about dog food quality”. Nationalism heightens tensions with foreigners; Juan Santamaria Day is a national holiday and is taught to children in school. The focus is on how Costa Rica is strong and powerful, and other countries in Latin America, specifically Nicaragua, should bow down to Costa Rica. Nationalism helps unite the people of Costa Rica together and promotes pride, but with this comes xenophobia and rejection of immigrants and foreigners.
When Costa Rica gained independence, the population rose and many Europeans, Africans, and other indigenous Americans came to Costa Rica. A government was formed and laws were passed, but ironically, the indigenous tribes of Costa Rica were not represented. They were forced to accept these new laws, and give up their rightful land to the newly formed government. Economic inequality and nationalism pushed lawmakers further into a path of ignoring the indigenous tribes. Kelsie Schrader wrote an article about the economic inequality and misrepresentation of tribes in Costa Rica. She wrote, “with increased inequality comes an increased sense of superiority from those higher in ranks. Prejudice towards the poor increases”. Most lawmakers reside in the upper economic classes, which causes them to feel above the rest of the country. There are very few indigenous tribe members that are part of the Costa Rican government, so their needs and opinions are overlooked and ignored. Overall, the combination of economic inequality and nationalism within the government causes the indigenous tribes to suffer and experience misrepresentation.
Nationalism is an incredibly useful tool to unite a country and have citizens from opposite ends of a nation feel a sense of belonging. As nationalism goes up, the pride of one’s nation goes up too, but so does the wariness and uncertainty of outside nations. In Costa Rica, nationalism fuels xenophobia and the hatred of Nicaraguans, and leaves the original indigenous tribes excluded and left to fend for themselves with stolen land and new laws that were forced to be accepted.

Costa Rica says “No” to Nicaraguans

From 1856 to 1857 William Walker, an American became president of Nicaragua. Earlier he had provided Nicaraguans with weapons in an attempt to take over some of Costa Rica’s territory. The then Costa Rican president, Juan Mora, sent troops against Walker and his troops and won. This was due to the assistance of Juan Santamaria, a mere drummer in the army. He volunteered to torch the building where Walker’s men were taking cover. He was completely exposed and was able to set the building on fire before he died from a shower of bullets. Walker’s men scattered, making Costa Rica the winner. Juan Santamaria’s heroism made him known as the man who single handedly defeated Walker and gave a real sense of pride and unity to the people. A serious flare of nationalism had developed because of the defeat of Walker. Even though Costa Ricans have a similar background to other people in South and Central America they consider themselves a distinctive ethnicity. Costa Ricans have grown to despise the Nicaraguans, especially the immigrants trying to come into Costa Rica, and are trying to expel them from their territory. 

Costa Rica has been the most peaceful country in Central America in recent history. They have high levels of health and education. Costa Rica has a stable democracy and for the most part, they keep to themselves; with immigrants from Nicaragua trying to cross the border though, they have become unified in their disdain for the Nicaraguan people. As the author Caitlin Fouratt explains, “After the Fall of the Sandinistas in 1990, economic migration to Costa Rica increased dramatically. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated Nicaragua, leaving millions homeless and destroying infrastructure and the harvest.” In 2010 Nicaragua started a dredging program in the San Juan River. Costa Rica objected to this act. They then brought Nicaragua to court. They accused them of violation of international environmental law. Later that same year Costa Rica built a road on the border of their country and Nicaragua. Because of this Nicaragua brought Costa Rica in front of the court. The court combined the two cases. In 2017 “Costa Rica asked the highest U.N. court to establish its maritime boundaries with Nicaragua once and for all to end repeated border disputes with its Central American neighbor.” Costa Rica claims that Nicaragua has a military camp on Costa Rica’s territory. This claim is what allowed them to take Nicaragua to court. In the same case “Costa Rican ambassador Sergio Ugalde told the court on Monday that Nicaragua was seeking to justify the location of the camp with “unrealistic and exaggerated claims” that would re-draw Costa Rica’s sea and land borders.” The tension between the countries seems to grow each year causing them to find new faults in one another so they can take legal action against each other. 

For a very long time, Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica for economic and political reasons, as well as to escape violence in their country. Nicaragua’s president Danile Ortega is not well liked by Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans at the moment, and there have been protests against him. For Costa Rica to keep their economy where it is they are  “wholly dependent on low-cost Nicaraguan laborers for harvesting their sugarcane and coffee and filling the ranks of the construction workforce in urban centers.”Costa Rica of late has had some social and economic challenges, and they are reluctant to take immigrants especially Nicaraguans. They need the Nicaraguans for labor but they are also a burden on the country. The Costa Ricans have found some use for the Nicaraguans, but it seems their low-cost labor isn’t enough in the minds of the Costa Ricans to outweigh the downside of them entering the country and the prejudice they have against them.

Attitudes toward Nicaraguans have grown more hostile over the years. Nicaraguans are seen as violent and illiterate. Costa Ricans think that they are superior. Any immigrants that are Nicaraguan and already in the country are not treated well. Caitlin Fouratt says that “In response to this kind of anti-immigrant attitude, the National Assembly passed a law that restricted residency, increased enforcement, and limited immigrants’ opportunities for integration. In Costa Rica, Nicaraguans make up 75 percent of immigrants and represent around 7 percent of the total population. They often work in agriculture, construction and service sectors.” Costa Rican officials commonly do roundups of illegal aliens. They return almost 150 Nicaraguan daily. The officials are on top of things and are doing everything they can to keep undocumented immigrants out. For the sake of keeping their own country stable and due to some entitlement, the people of Costa Rica are very reluctant to give a helping hand to the people of Nicaragua or treat them well. 

 In 2019 Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado wanted Nicaragua to hold free elections and re-establish democracy, as well as maintain a free press, and provide human rights guarantees. He felt that Nicaraguans had a negative impact on Central America. The country is not interested in taking in Nicaraguans but rather they improve on their own. This comes off as selfish, but Costa Rica must sustain their own well being and they are struggling to keep up with the growing number of refugees. The UN has called on other countries to help places like Costa Rica which are having to take in this influx of Nicaraguans.

There has been little improvement in the two countries’ relationship. A big part of this is Costa Rica’s nationalism. They see themselves as superior to the Nicaraguans and therefore do not want to get involved in the issues taking place in Nicaragua that are causing the people to flee. Costa Rica is putting themselves first and focusing on the preservation of their country and its culture. 

Environmental Appreciation or Possessive Nationalism? Bolsonaro’s “Advocacy” for the Amazon

Amidst a turbulent era in Brazilian politics with the impeachment of the country’s former president, Dilma Rouseff, and the unpopularity of her successor, Michel Temer, retired military officer Jair Bolsonaro took over as President of the South American country in January 2019. As he campaigned on right-wing promises such as halting new demarcations of indigenous lands and openly idolizing Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985, his political rhetoric was and still remains deeply divisive and polarizing. Bolsonaro adopted the Portuguese phrase “Brasil acima de tudo,” which translates to “Brazil above all else,” highlighting the President’s highly nationalistic view of politics. In pursuit of growing Brazil’s economy, Bolsonaro purposefully ignores the negative effects of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and the subsequent global outcry and instead continues to pass legislation that encourages private companies to wreck the resource-rich land all in the name of nationalism. 

As Jair Bolsonaro turns a blind eye, the deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest grows significantly and causes ramifications across the globe. According to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, the Amazon faced its highest rate of deforestation since 2008 in 2019 under Bolsonaro, showing a nearly 30% spike in deforestation rates from the previous year. This causes great concern, since the Amazon Rainforest is roughly half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests and is home to one in ten known animal species on Earth. The forest’s ability to contain  90-140 billion metric tons of carbon helps stabalize local and global climate, while deforestation releases catastrophic amounts of carbon emissions and expedites global warming. 

The recent uptick in harm to the Amazon Rainforest can be credited to the Brazilian President. Bolsonaro encourages farming and mining in protected areas of the forest, claiming that it will lead the country out of poverty. In August 2020, Bolsonaro’s environmental minister raised doubts regarding the previously-mentioned damning data on deforestation and the President himself fired the head of the government agency that tracks deforestation in Brazil. On top of his political negligence, Bolsonaro continually allows farmers to destroy the rainforest in anticipation of clear land to raise cattle, culminating in horrifying intentional fires that devastated the tropical area, inevitably causing global outrage.

The clear global harm of deforestation largely doesn’t worry the Brazilian President, rather he uses the global scientific community’s concern as another way to rally his supporters against globalism. Airing out his frustrations, Bolsonaro asserted to one European journalist that “The Amazon is Brazil’s — not yours.” This statement directly coincides with his famed slogan “Brazil above all else,” with both of the statements being fueled with highly nationalistic rhetoric. Bolsonaro diregards the global concern over the Amazon, and instead cites the concern as foreign interference with the growth of Brazil. Bolsonaro takes actions that he believes will better Brazil’s economy, ignoring the global environmental and humanitarian impact. Bolsonaro uses nationalistic rhetoric to encourage privatization and villainize foreign opposition. This misplaced nationalism and attack on foreign powers isolates the South American country, leading to global motions against the country such as a joint statement published by the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership urging Bolsonaro to take immediate action against deforestation. 

Jair Bolsonaro’s nationalism can be seen in subsets of his policies other than just those pertaining to the environment. Bolsonaro’s attraction to a capitalist Brazil leads him to ostracise Venezuela for its socialist government, motioning for an activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Recipricol Assistance so that the country can take military action against Venezuela. Bolsonaro disregards Brazil’s Indigenous communities as lawless perpetrators of violence, and enacts policies to shrivel Indigenous rights under the shroud of fighting for a stronger Brazil. Through and through, Bolsonaro expresses his nationalistic perspective to the world, taking action to highlight his vision of a perfect Brazil.As for how effective Bolsonaro’s nationalism is, his effectiveness has been widely disputed as his time in office has only lasted two years. However, as global carbon emmissions rise at record levels because of Bolsonaro’s negligence including his refusal of 22$ million from the G7 to combat fires, the world’s faith in Brazil has dwindled and the country faces the consequences of its nationalistic president.

Mr. Trump’s Significance on Rising Mexican Nationalism

Donald Trump’s trademark is arguably his volatile and hyperbolic language, with a healthy dose of his nationalistic cries of ‘America first’. While the effects of this are vast and multidimensional, one of the more muffled effects is the rising nationalism in the U.S.’s southern neighbor. While it is foolish to pin the entirety of Mexico’s recent rise in nationalism on president Trump, a large part of it can definitely be attributed to him.  “President Donald Trump has called for Americans to focus inwardly But in response, Mexico has come up with its own cry: “Hecho en México,“”Made in Mexico.”  

National Identity is crucial to any country, it allows its citizens to belong to a larger group, and it offers a distinctiveness to a person based on their location, or cultural heritage.  Psychology Today describes the importance of national identity as, “a diverse society, where members of many different cultural, ethnic, socio-economic, and language groups are all citizens; a clear national identity is needed to unite all citizens.” Mexico has historically struggled to have a cohesive national identity. Mestizo or mixed blood refers to the majority of the population that is a genealogical mix between indigiounes people and imperial Spaniards. The invasion of Spanish colonizers was a grisly and brutal reality in the 16th century.   Archaeologist Martin Robles Luengas states, “We are not pure Aztecs, nor are we pure Spaniards……Today as a Mexican you cannot complain of the Spaniards, because part of you is a Spaniard.”  This conveys the extent of  blending that has happened within Mexican culture. Many of the traditions that are prevalent in today’s Mexico are a tangle of heritages.  

Jorge Guajardo, a former ambassador states,  “Mexican identity is very much founded on the basis of defending our honor, from being trampled on by foreign forces….So we were humiliated by the Spaniards who conquered the Aztec empire, we were humiliated by the United States who stole half of our territory, we were humiliated by the French. It’s a long story of humiliation.” This feeling of humiliation is intricately woven into the current rise of Nationalism within Mexico. The desire to not be disrespected as a sovereign country, and as a culture is a large contributor to this new national attitude. 

President Trump has made some rather ungracious comments over the years about Mexico. He called Mexicans ‘rapists, and criminals’ during his 2016 presidential campaign. He called for a border wall to stop illegal immigrants crossing the  border. This discomfort was then further exacerbated by Trump falsely claiming that Mexico would fund the border wall. Mr. Trump  has gradually increased tariffs on Mexican goods as a rough incentive to clamp down on the flow of immigrants. He has terminated the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) deal. Mr. Trump pressured Mexico to stop harboring Central American migrants, when Mexico has historically been a safe haven for refugees. 

Mexico’s recent spike in nationalism has been a response to President Trump’s rhetoric about the country. There has been a push to support products manufactured in Mexico in the last few years. Many Mexicans have been shying away from large American brands such as Walmart, Starbucks, and McDonalds. Some intellectuals such as Professor Dámaso Morales Ramírez see Trump’s behavior as a ‘‘blessing’’, meaning an opportunity to reevaluate the fundamentals of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. A relationship that had gone on for too long with little accountability according to some.  Because of Trump’s antics Mexicans perception of America has declined sharply. In 2015, 66% of Mexicans held a favorable opinion of the U.S. however, in 2017, just a year into Trump’s presidency, that number dropped to 30%. Many Mexican citizens, believing that Trump has disgraced their country, mix this current feeling with the legacy of the 20th century, a humiliated nation. The result, a renewed spark of patriotism. Consequently, Mexico has elected the most populist President with a nationalistic tone in decades Andrés Manuel López Obrador (ALMO).  President Donald Trump is not known for his soothing rhetoric. He has taken the approach throughout his presidency that it is high time for America to focus on herself. This withdrawal from the world stage as well as the harsh rhetoric directed at Mexico has triggered a considerable shift in the national attitude of Mexico–a sharp rise in Mexican nationalism. The rise in nationalism on its own is not always a bad thing, but if the sentiment of this nationalism becomes inherently anti-American this feeling could stand to create major tensions between the two countries in the future.