The government shutdown in the U.S. continues, with no sign of compromise from President Donald Trump on his insistence that border security requires physical barriers, since law enforcement cannot police thousands of miles of border without them. The unfortunate reality is that uninhabited border areas not controlled by law enforcement, are controlled by criminal gangs. The President made this a major campaign issue in 2016, and again in the 2018 midterm elections, insisting that more physical barriers are necessary to insure border security, in order to protect the country from drug trafficking and other crime, as well as criminal gangs’ control of illegal immigration.
While media attention has focused on using this stalemate for demagoguery against the President, the same media have studiously ignored the other side of the equation. A process of negotiation is underway between Trump administration officials and those of the new government of Mexico, on a cooperative economic development policy, aimed at alleviating the grinding poverty and the climate of violence from the drug cartels and gangs in Mexico and Central America, which are the main causes of migration from that region to the U.S.
On December 1, the day of the inauguration of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as President of Mexico, a joint declaration was signed by AMLO (as Lopez Obrador is known), with the Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (the "Northern Triangle" nations), to support a Comprehensive Development Plan for the region. Of the initial $20 billion pledged, 75% of the funds will go to projects which create jobs, with the other 25% going to border control and law enforcement. The Trump administration is said to have pledged $5.8 billion for the Central American countries, and $4.8 billion for projects in southern Mexico. Investing in the creation of productive jobs, particularly in modernizing infrastructure, will alleviate poverty, and give hope to people who otherwise believe they must leave their country to protect their families and have a future.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, responded, "I think this is good news, very good news for Mexico." A phone conversation took place between AMLO and Trump on December 13, to discuss the programs for job creation in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, which AMLO described as "respectful and friendly." In previous discussions, they had addressed the importance of job creation and infrastructure development as key to addressing the root causes of mass immigration.
THE "SINGAPORE MODEL"
Just as the media and Trump opponents have derided his peace-making with North Korea's President Kim Jong-un during and after their summit in Singapore, there is incredulity that Trump would consider a cooperative alliance with Mexico. The "Singapore Model,” as Helga Zepp LaRouche called it, showed that potential adversaries can overcome years of hostility by engaging in dialogue, in which cooperation offers mutually beneficial results. While Kim was initially addressed in unflattering language by Trump, and was the target of frequent twitter blasts, so has Mexico been subjected to harsh rhetoric from Trump in the past. Progress with North Korea was related to economic pledges from Trump, backed by China, Russia, and South Korea, to bring the nation into the Belt-and-Road Initiative. With Mexico, his promise to voters to build a wall along the entire 3,145 kilometer border, to keep out "bad people, rapists and drug pushers,” was a staple of his campaign, as it still is today.
However, at the same time, Trump has expressed openness to work with Mexico to resolve differences. He has repeatedly emphasized that one of the biggest problems in Mexico-U.S. relations has been the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, which he derided as a bad deal for the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and vowed to rewrite it, or abrogate it. On December 1, leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico signed a reworked trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), to go into effect in 2020, which is not a free trade agreement and is totally different from NAFTA, instead protecting jobs and increasing wages. The free trade agreements of the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies accelerated the deindustrialization of the U.S., which was the deliberate intent of their authors, and was a significant factor in the loss of more than six million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Trump has repeatedly pledged to those former industrial workers victimized by the shutdowns due to free trade agreements, that he will negotiate trade agreements to bring back American manufacturing jobs, and he has begun to deliver on these promises.
In his inaugural address, AMLO demonstrated that he also rejects the policies imposed by the global bankers, their neo-liberal economists, and their debt-collection agencies, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund. He forcefully attacked the trade agreements of his predecessors, asserting that the free market, free trade policies of the last two decades have been "a disaster, a calamity" for Mexico, which increased income inequality and spurred the mass migration of impoverished workers. By changing the economic policies of his nation, by rejecting the false promises of a quick fix from "free trade,” he is committed to creating industrial jobs in Mexico, making it possible to fulfill "a dream that I want to see become a reality... that nobody will want to go to work in the United States anymore."
This was a major focus of his New Year's Day message, in which he announced that "all youth, all of them, are going to have work and schooling." His administration is launching a new program which will provide funding for job training of unemployed youth, so they can find work as apprentices. "They are going to work in workshops; they are going to work in factories, in businesses. They are going to be working in the countryside, in the cities; with their parents, with their relatives, but working, being educated, qualifying themselves for work—all youth," he said.
In taking this course, AMLO is addressing the same acute problem which exists throughout the Trans-Atlantic sector, of young people who are being robbed of a future due to lack of education and training, unable to find a decent job. He said, for him, that this idea came from FDR:
"I have had this idea since I read how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pulled the United States out of the 1930's crisis. What did he do, in a tremendous economic crisis? He decided to put the whole U.S. people to work. And he decided to put young people to work, and he paid them a dollar a day, for every young person. But his idea was full employment. That is, a job for everyone. That idea stuck in my head, because Roosevelt lifted the United States out of the crisis, and for me he was therefore if not the best president, one of the best which the United States has had.... Now we are going to do something similar: All young people to work."
As a first step toward realizing this dream, AMLO announced on December 23 a $400 million development plan for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which includes $151 million to expand and modernize the ports of Salina Cruz on the Pacific Ocean, and Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico, upgrading rail transport and highways which connect the two ports, and building a new gas pipeline.
These development programs for Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America, if supported fully by the U.S., would have a major effect on reducing the causes of migrant flows. Combined with a parallel effort to cripple the drug cartels, with an emphasis on shutting down the drug money laundering conducted largely by Wall Street, City of London, and unregulated, offshore banks, such programs would be another major step in securing the border.
LAROUCHE'S "OPERATION JUAREZ"
The steps taken thus far, while promising, fall short of the potential envisioned in a book-length manuscript written by American economist Lyndon LaRouche, called "Operation Juarez.” LaRouche met with Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo in June 1982, as Mexico and most Ibero-American nations were overwhelmed by unsustainable debt, and were being ordered to impose draconian austerity to guarantee that the bankers would get their pound of flesh. On August 2, 1982, LaRouche published his work, which proposed a "collective financial reorganization of Ibero-American debt." He proposed that debt be rescheduled or forgiven, and that the neoliberal, imperial economic system which created the debt crisis be replaced by a "new program of investments and operating policies." To those economic hitmen who objected to this, saying they would lose interest income if the debt were reorganized or rescheduled, LaRouche said they must be told, "Try to collect the old contracts, and you force us to default," i.e., that the indebted nations could wield a "debt bomb."
LaRouche's prescience in this document is quite striking. He blasted the IMF determination of exchange rates at the time as "nothing more or less than pure and simple theft, on a massive scale, by foreign lending institutions and others." Instead of submitting to IMF conditionalities, the continent needs a policy which will bring "internal institutions of credit, currency and banking into order," as sovereign instruments designed to serve the interests of the nation, not global bankers. He also insisted on establishing medium and long-term trading partnerships, with "fair-pricing agreements," an early warning against the coming regime of WTO "free trade" policies designed to impose low wages and cheap raw material prices, for the benefit of global corporations and banks. He sharply criticized the direction of the European Common Market, the predecessor of the European Union, which had adopted policies "based upon British-style central banking."
LaRouche's advice helped shape the policy direction of the Lopez Portillo government, which broke with the IMF during September-October of 1982, and attempted to rally other Ibero-American governments to join them. Despite the courage of Lopez Portillo, the force of the City of London and Wall Street was too powerful to overcome, and, with important brief exceptions, most of the next four decades have been shaped by imperial, free market, anti-sovereign, free trade policies, to the detriment of the nations and people of South and Central America.
The informed nationalism of Lopez Portillo, which was nurtured by the anti-imperial roots of the Mexican Revolution, virtually disappeared in Mexico after the end of his presidency, but is now finding a rebirth in the approach, thus far, of AMLO. In the July 2018 Presidential election, AMLO won 53% of the vote in a three-party race, smashing the two establishment political parties. LaRouche recognized this potential in a piece he wrote in July 2006 titled "Lopez Obrador Is Right," after AMLO was defrauded from winning the presidency. His advice then should be taken seriously today, by both AMLO and President Trump, as they are confronted by swindlers and economic hitmen out to preserve their dying system.
In addressing the crisis which he saw escalating at the time, which ripened into the Crash of 2008, LaRouche said that rather than accepting a system which denies credit for development, "you must create a mechanism of credit, which has to be a new mechanism of credit, by putting the old system, which is bankrupt, into reorganization.
"Operation Juárez is the principle it's based on... The orientation has not changed [since 1982]. Back then, we were fighting to defend Mexico against what was coming out of the United States. And now Mexico has experienced what was coming out of the United States then, with a loss of its economy and its sovereignty. Don't trust any private lenders who are not controlled by some kind of coalition of governments, to make sure the credit is long-term, cheap, and that it goes into infrastructure—public works primarily, and industries which are stimulated by public works. This is where we stand now.
"López Obrador is absolutely right in saying that what they [the bankers] are doing, is that they are looting Mexico and its people by sucking them into the United States, like a great vacuum cleaner, through the sucking power of poverty, and looting." What is needed now, he said, "throughout the hemisphere is long-term investments in solid, basic economic infrastructure, as a stimulant for every section of the economy." LaRouche pointed to his standing proposal that Mexico should develop its oil industry as a transition to a nuclear energy-based, high-technology economy, as an example of the kind of policy that is required.
As President Trump has acted on a firm commitment to go against the system, he has found allies, in Xi Jinping, Putin, Prime Minister Modi of India and others, who are unwilling to allow their nations to be destroyed by attempting to coexist with the collapsing British neoliberal global system. The movement against the establishment, beginning with the vote for Brexit, the election of leaders such as Trump and AMLO, and the spread of the spirit of the "Yellow Vests" in France, reflect a "mass strike" potential which cannot be contained short of unleashing chaos and war—which the neocons and neoliberals have as their last option. For this mass strike process to reach its full potential, follow the advice of Mexico's former President Jose Lopez Portillo, at an event in December 1998: "It is now necessary," he said, "for the world to listen to the wise words of Lyndon LaRouche."