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Mexico Responds To Trump Tariff Threats

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Mexico is reacting to President Trump's tariff threat. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he isn't a, quote, "coward," nor timorous but that he's also sending a delegation to Washington, and he's confident they'll be able to reach an agreement.

Carlos Bravo Regidor is a political analyst and a professor at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City, and he joins us now.

Good morning.

CARLOS BRAVO REGIDOR: Hi, Lulu. Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So President Trump is threatening Mexico with economic harm if Mexico doesn't stop what he terms illegal migration. Lopez Obrador's response isn't exactly fiery. What do you make of that?

REGIDOR: You know, from the Mexican perspective, this is very frustrating because, you know, Mexico cannot take the initiative because Trump is so disruptive that we reach agreements with him, and then he changes his mind. So it's sort of a never-ending story.

So I think that Lopez Obrador's letter - it's just a new attempt at trying to pacify a neighbor for whom nothing is ever enough.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You use the word pacify Trump. Many leaders have tried to pacify Trump with varying degrees of success. I'm wondering what the calculations here are for the Mexican president.

REGIDOR: Well, I think the letter that was sent is mostly for domestic consumption, so to speak. The Mexican government has done, actually, a lot in terms of trying to order, to regulate the flow of immigrants from Central America. But you know that undocumented migration is a phenomenon in regards to which there is only so much you can do.

Mexico has become this sort of sandwich between pressures from the south and the pressures from the north. Quite frankly, sometimes it feels that Trump is not pushing the idea of the wall anymore and of Mexico paying it, but now he is somehow implicitly suggesting that Mexico should become the wall and move, so to speak, the border with the U.S. to our border with Guatemala.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lopez Obrador is from the left. And he's got domestic policies and a national agenda and a raging drug war and a lot of other things. So where does that leave Mexico right now in its relationship with the U.S.?

REGIDOR: So I think this leaves Mexico in a position not only to try to negotiate with Trump, but also to actively reach out to other actors and interests that can actually help, you know, create some pressure for Trump to not follow through with the threat. For instance, I know as a fact that Republicans in Texas are taking a very critical stance regarding Trump's threat because Mexico is Texas' No. 1 trade partner.

And, you know, Trump crossed a red line in terms of the relationship with this threat because for a really long time, for decades now, Mexico and the U.S. have had this sort of implicit agreement where trade was, you know, a separate issue. You know, it was supposed not to be contaminated, so to speak, with other problems, whether it is security, whether it's migration, with whatever. You know, trade was important for both countries, and it was an issue in itself, so to speak.

So now, I mean, the relationship is going through a really hard moment. And, you know, the name of the game now, now more than ever, is actually uncertainty.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Carlos Bravo Regidor. He's a political analyst in Mexico City.

Thank you very much.

REGIDOR: Thank you, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.