Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto rendered his country speechless as he prepared to give the nation’s highest honour for foreigners to Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and Donald Trump’s son-in-law.
The president lauded Kushner as ‘a grand ally of Mexico’ who brought the talks over the North American Free Trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico to a new level. Mexican media quoted Pena Nieto as saying that Kushner ‘has been an important actor in this objective of having a good understanding of the new government that entered two years ago’.
The NAFTA agreement has been revised and edited, with the document, which now goes by the abbreviation USMCA, and is expected to be signed in Buenos Aires during the upcoming G20 summit, where Pena Nieto will bestow the Order of the Aztec Eagle, whose past recipients include Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela and Walt Disney, on Kushner. The news has met a barrage of criticism among Mexicans, who connected the move with the utmost unpopularity of the outgoing Mexican president and quickly picked up on the order’s previous holders.
‘Giving [Kushner] the Aztec Eagle is a supreme act of humiliation and cowardice’, tweeted historian Enrique Krauze.
‘This is the perfect ending for Peña Nieto’s term: an insuperable illustration of the indignity of his government’s position regarding Trump. It’s the final kick in the crutch [sic] for Mexicans’, remarked Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics.
Other Twitter users en masse joined the discussion, saying the order might serve as ‘cash for the wall’:
This is clearly for getting them to agree to pay for the wall. Masterful negotiating.— Art Lombard (@ArtLombard) 27 ноября 2018 г.
Is this what they offered up instead of cash for his wall?— Brian Pouch (@BPouch) 27 ноября 2018 г.
One user suggested that the award might come along for ‘non-interference’:
For what? Not interfering like his father-in-law.— Iced Coffee Hater (@MannyBuckley) 27 ноября 2018 г.
That's literally the only reason imaginable.
They want Kushner in Mexico's pocket?— Sea Witch (@30ASeawitch) 27 ноября 2018 г.
Some remarked that the choice was solely that of one of Mexico’s ‘most hated presidents’, not Mexicans:
Oh god! I am a Mexican and this is not what the Mexicans want, this is the choosing of Peña Nieto, one of the most hated presidents of Mexico!— Mariah (@mariahsf1) 28 ноября 2018 г.
Mexico’s president names have turned up an embarrassing lot in the trial of El Chapo. That’s something that should probably be reported.— Harry Pujols (@harrypujols) 27 ноября 2018 г.
Others naturally suggested that money is the root of all evil:
Why? Mexico and Saudi Arabia sure love their Jared Kushner. Money, money, money— V F (@Valorie0509) 28 ноября 2018 г.
How much did your daddy in law pay for that!— trent dearing (@tdfdswtf) 28 ноября 2018 г.
One user was curious as to why Argentina had been chosen as the place for granting the award:
Just so every American gets his bearings straight, Buenos Aires is in Argentina. I haven’t the vaguest idea why the Mexican president wants to do it there when Mexico is next door to the USA.— Aureliano Buendia (@Aurelia38150867) 27 ноября 2018 г.
Interestingly, one brought up Obama’s Nobel Peace prize, drawing parallels to the way people felt at that time:
Now all of you know how we felt when Obama won the Nobel Peace price— dankish (@HelmerRivera) 27 ноября 2018 г.
Hilarious remarks and a myriad of gif-images came in abundance as well:
He definitely has Mexico’s best interest at heart….it’s what drives him I bet. Lol— J Ahearn (@jsahearn27) 27 ноября 2018 г.
The US and Mexico have had a rocky diplomatic relationship since Donald Trump took office in 2016.
In August 2016, the then Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, whom Kushner is rumoured to have been closely communicating with, convinced Pena Nieto to invite the then presidential candidate Trump for a meeting at his palace, where Trump voiced his unequivocal support for a border wall. Pena Nieto reportedly remained silent until after Trump’s departure to one of his campaign rallies, where he again called for the wall to be built.
Luis Videgaray was downgraded following the botched meeting, but was then restored in his ministerial position just before Trump’s inauguration, which prompted political analysts to say that Mexico had opted for a ‘son-in-law strategy’ in its attempts to deal with the White House.
The US-Mexican wall has been a stumbling block in the countries’ ties ever since, with Trump vehemently persisting in his calls and even threatening to close parts of the US-Mexico border in light of a nearly 6,000-strong caravan of Central American migrants in the city of Tijuana, in Mexico, just south of California. US authorities have deployed several thousand troops to prevent the caravan from crossing into the country.
Pena Nieto leaves his post on 30 November, his reputation severely tarnished by six years of endless corruption scandals and conflict-of-interest spats, with his approval ratings not exceeding 24 percent, according to polling agency Consulta Mitofsky.