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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.