On almost every trip to Mexico I am met by a great friend, Arturo Morales Cruz, who takes me somewhere where we can talk before going to the hotel or to their home for dinner. Arturo owns a transportation company that specializes in moving tourists to their road destinations.
Since the Great Recession and the drug cartel wars to access American markets, international tourism that was Mexico’s outstanding business industry, is becoming one of its casualties. There have been major shifts led by the travel industry that is turning to national tourism as a way to survive and many small to medium businesses like that of Morales have exchanged buses for vans that carry less passengers for less distances.
The 20-seat Mercedes vans are very popular and appear to be the most used. Buses continue to be employed but not in the numbers or models that were the class of the industry.
Arturo talks about the Trump insults to Mexicans, the wall, the Mexican declining interest in going to the United States and American responsibility for its drug culture. He expresses a sense of resignation regarding the present relations with the United States as well as joins in creative talk about the opportunity it may provide for Mexico and rest of Latin America to go their own way.
To be precise, Mexico is seen as the last important friend the United States has in the Spanish-speaking Americas. To illustrate this, there is a story going around about an investor that some time ago, given Mexico’s energy reforms, developed a major initiative to sell oil and other energy services to China only to be told that the US would frown on that and therefore the project could not go forward.
Now, many see that impediment as gone and there is a good chance that the plan can go forward.
Mexican business thinkers are coming around to the opinion that America’s predominance in the world may be coming to the end in this century.
President Trump’s encouragement of Japan to rebuilt its military and become a nuclear power is, in a sense, is also creating a feeling that China as the emerging economic power in the world may take Japan along for the ride. The failure of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) seems to have been the last major effort on the part of Japan to insulate itself against the projection of Chinese control in East Asia and, in the future, it may be forced to question its continued loyalty and economic partnership with the United States.
Populist Mexicans reacting to the President’s insults are revealing loose talk about withdrawing support for the war on drugs and letting Americans deal with the drug traffic on their own soil. On the other hand, there is an idea that seems to be garnering a lot of public support that calls for the Mexican national school curriculum to require English language learning in its public schools.
This new direction toward Mexican bilingualism has led me to think that while good for Mexico, it may not coincide with the interests of the America First crowd that wants exclusivity in the leadership of the country. This is because Spanish has historically been used by so-called nativists to disqualify Latinos as true Americans and bilingualism even in immigrants takes that away.
English of course is of tremendous advantage in business and the values it communicates. But I can’t help but think that, in this case, Latino bilingualism can become a Trojan horse in the future America.