Trump And The World

Mexico’s Problem Goes Beyond Trump, Straight To The American People

Trump's rough discourse has uncovered simmering resentment against Mexico among Americans, which began with NAFTA and the job losses that it entailed for parts of the U.S.

A Trump supporter in San Diego on May 27
A Trump supporter in San Diego on May 27
Luis Rubio

MEXICO CITY â€" The irritation is palpable and plainly justified: The risks of a Trump presidency for this country are obvious and his jibes at Mexico and the Mexicans, unacceptable. Nobody disputes this. The question for us is whether Mexico can have a hand in stopping Donald Trump and derailing his candidacy, without provoking an unforeseen backlash?

Our geography has granted us great economic opportunity, but we have not become a great political power. I don't think anyone will declare Mexico to be major regional power in Latin America. With that in mind though, and without underestimating our tarnished national dignity, the Mexican response to Trump cannot be visceral: We must act in such a way as to improve our options without raising the risks.

Changing the word "enemy" for "neighbor," nobody could say it better than the philosopher of war, Sun Tzu: "If you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory, you will suffer a defeat. If you know neither your enemy nor yourself, you will be defeated at every battle."

The little actor's strategy before a much bigger one has to be to contemplate the circumstances and possible consequences of his actions. For months now, the Mexican government has been acting with some presumption perhaps when promoting the naturalization in the U.S. of those Mexicans that meet the conditions, especially in "swing states" that are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. The presumption is that their vote could make a difference on election day. While the numerical logic is clear, the political reasoning is not. Because we might then face not just the "wrong" president, but also his wrath.

Clearly, Mexico must do something that does not entail devastating risks. Many Mexican presidents have gone to the U.S. Congress in the past for some straight talking, and some have even gone beyond bilateral issues like migration or arms, to venture into sensitive issues like the Middle East or Vietnam. None managed to sway congressional opinion, and it would have been absurd to expect it when you think how vigorously Mexicans have rejected any U.S. interference in their internal affairs.

In Trump's case particularly, evidence suggests that his campaign ratings have improved every time a Mexican public figure, like the former conservative president Vicente Fox, criticized him on television. Trump's solid base of supporters fervently believes in his message and any help on our part is welcome! Quite simply, we mustn't stoke the fire.

Since the late 1980s, Mexican governments have had excellent ties with the United States. The interaction between the states is smooth, and any problems or complaints are given attention, if not always swiftly resolved. On two occasions at least half the Obama administration came to Mexico City to prevent an increase in tensions.

Blame NAFTA

The problem is not one of relations with the U.S. government, but with its citizens. That is where the trust deficit lies, and at least part of the reason why Trump's anti-Mexican discourse is vigorous and eagerly heard.

The NAFTA free-trade pact opened a world of opportunities for investment in Mexico and of exports of manufactures toward our neighbors. The big cost was to turn us into a domestic affair of the United States. The Americans used to view Mexico as a key country until the 1990s even if debates were restricted to specialized agencies dealing with drugs or crime. The debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) changed this and created a stigma around Mexico for those hit by job losses with the transfer of firms and factories onto Mexican soil or beyond. The political reality is that Mexico has taken the blame for so many ills for which we were not responsible, but not that this matters in campaign politics.

What matters is that we did nothing to stop it. After NAFTA's approval, we forgot about the U.S. society as a whole, which we had courted so much before to win its approval. We are paying the price and have to think of a response.

Clearly, in the long term, we must conquer American society with those assets of ours that are exceptional: culture, history, people, service, vitality, humor. In the short term, there isn't much else to do but build contacts and bridges with both campaign teams, explaining the Mexican perspective and working to minimize future harm. And also (silently) hope that one bad scenario doesn't come to pass.

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Feed The Future

COP26 Should Mark A Turning Point In Solving The Climate Crisis

Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.

A new dawn?




If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.

The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.

Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.

This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.

It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."

In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.

Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.

Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.

But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.

In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.

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