If Trump wants to seal off U.S. borders, Latin Americans can respond by boycotting American brands.
BOGOTÁ — A video is being shared on WhatsApp. It shows charming scenes of the Mexican countryside while a familiar Mariachi song Son de la Negraplays. A caption reads, "If we want to rescue this beautiful country, we must unite."
The clip urges viewers to fight President Donald Trump's all-out assault on Mexico. And it suggests a few courses of action: Rejecting Disney World, New York, Miami, Las Vegas and California in favor of Mexico City, Cancún, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. Choosing Toyota, Nissan, Audi, Honda or BMW instead of Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler. Also, we can spurn Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King and Home Depot — the co-founder if this last company has said he backs Trump's border wall. Instead we should be eating tacos, tortilla pancakes and guacamole. The video tells viewers to drink tequila, not whiskey. To shop at local grocers instead of "Gringo" stores.
In short, the moment has come to stop buying things "Made in U.S.A" and to shop for products Hecho en México or elsewhere in Latin America.
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim has said that the only response to Trump's absurd measures against Mexico is to fortify the domestic market. That's what we must do. We need to strengthen alliances between Latin American countries and move closer to Europe and Asia. The wall Trump wants to build on the Mexican border doesn't just separate it from Latin America: It's a sign that the U.S. is set to seal itself off from the rest of the entire world — with the curious exception of Russia.
A recent notice Harvard University sent its foreign students is telling. Given Trump's orders restricting the entry or re-entry of people from several Muslim-majority countries, and the possibility of more such bans in due course, the university warned students that they should reconsider travel outside the U.S. as such an endeavor would pose a risk that they're not allowed back in. If they had to travel abroad, Harvard wrote, students need to send the university their itinerary, and to contact it immediately if they were refused entry back into the U.S. so it can assist them.
There is much danger that what began as Trump's witch-hunt against Muslims and Mexicans may spread to Colombians, given the increase in coca cultivation here. Moreover, in spite of the peace deal with guerrillas, FARC remains on the U.S. terrorist list for now. If strategies to grow other crops do not work as expected and they fail to reduce coca farming this year, Colombia could easily enter Trump's blacklist and face trade penalties. Colombia is already on a watch list. The first Colombian, a woman, was sent back to the border recently.
So we better start preparing now: Let's begin to enjoy our own food — tamal wraps, ajiaco soup and our cornflour pancakes arepas. Let's wear traditional clothing, visit sites in our own country or travel within Latin America. Let's protect our markets.
Promoting what is ours and uniting more closely with other Latin American countries: That's our only defense.