It's been the single defining issue of Donald Trump's campaign: Build an impenetrable wall along the United States' southern border, and—don't you worry—Mexico is gonna pay for the whole damn thing. Sure, Trump didn't actually discuss any of the wall specifics (or did he?) when he met recently with Mexico's president Enrique Peña Nieto (or did he?), but to hear him tell it, the wall is a fait accompli, a done deal, as good as built.
And now, one Mexican politician thinks it's time for his country to come up with a response.
Armando Rios Piter, a senator representing the state of Guerrero for Mexico's left-leaning Partido de la Revolución Democrática ("Party of the Democratic Revolution") is proposing legislation that would allow his country to retaliate against certain actions taken by a Trump administration by essentially mirroring it. As Reuters reports, a summary of Rios Piter's proposal states:
In cases where the property/assets of (our) fellow citizens or companies are affected by a foreign government, as Donald Trump has threatened, the Mexican government should proportionally expropriate assets and properties of foreigners from that country on our territory.
In other words, if Trump were to block remittances sent from Mexicans living in the United States back over to Mexico, in an effort to strong-arm the country into shouldering the cost of any border wall construction, Mexico would block an equivalent sum of money headed in the opposite direction. Tit for tat. Back and forth.
Reuters points out that Rios Piter's legislation would, in certain cases, also allow Mexico to "disavow" international treaties in cases where Mexico's interests are deemed to be at stake.
Trump's visit to Mexico, which was largely—if somewhat inexplicably—considered something of a boon to his campaign here in the United States, was seen as a decidedly less successful political gambit on the part of already-unpopular president Peña Nieto, with protesters in Mexico City calling it "an insult to our country." In comparison, Rios Piter's proposed legislation seems like a much more robust stance to take.
In particular, Rios Piter sees the proposal as a means to safeguard against any effort by Trump to alter, or abandon, 1994's North American Free Trade Agreement—something he has threatened to do.
"This is the first step towards establishing a public policy about how Mexico should react in the face of a threat," Rios Piter explained to the Financial Times. "This is simply to protect a successful 22-year-old relationship that has helped both nations. We want to defend that from a position that seeks to destroy it. We have to put it in black and white."
While it's unclear how likely it is that Rios Piter's proposal will actually become law (Reuters notes his party and its ideological compatriots occupy just a quarter of Mexico's Senate seats) the senator told the news agency that the legislation is, in part, a concrete reminder at how interconnected the United States and Mexico truly are.
"At a time like this, it's vital for us to understand why this relationship benefits both. We're neighbors, we're friends, we're partners," he told Reuters. "[Trump] is putting (that) at risk"