Mexico
The Last Supper
Por Hernán Sarquis
After his meeting with Pence, and a weekend away from a potential "Black Monday", Marcelo Ebrard had supper with a powerful American group that would have support the US President in any other Republican administration. The details of a high-level lobbying effort.

A few hours had passed since the most transcendental summit in Marcelo Ebrard short diplomatic career when an unexpected group of players made its appearance. The same day after their meeting with Pence and Pompeo, the Mexican delegation sent by AMLO with the mission of achieving the impossible received a document which seemed taken straight out of a political thriller.

LPO found out that, on Wednesday night, the Mexican high-ranking officials had dinner with a group of business leaders from the US Chamber of Commerce, the oldest lobbying group in the country. The one that invests more money in moving the political gears in the country. Their goal was clear: to defend the interests of the American business sector against the whims of the current administration. These interests usually go hand in hand with the Republican Party, the Chamber's historical ally since its creation in 1912. Not anymore.

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The document that the representatives from the Chamber handed in to Ebrard and Márquez includes a list of products and industries which would impact Trump voters the most, if Mexico set its own tariffs against the US. The farmers would receive the worst blows. Mexico is the main market for American products such as rice, dairy, poultry, beef, soy, and wheat. This is the sector that is suffering the most after Trump's attacks on China, and, by opening yet another front, this time so close to home, would mean a brutal impact on states like Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, among many others. States that Trump needs if he wants to secure a second term in 2020. Just last year, Mexico bought $3 billion dollars in American corn.

Not to mention the auto industry. Ford, General Motors, Lear, Autoliv, and American Axle have millions of dollars at stake, and a sophisticated supply chain over 25 years in the making.

Between 2015 and 2016, close to the Presidential Election, the Chamber invested almost $170 million dollars in lobbying efforts. A large part of their war chest was for an initiative they called "Save the Senate", mainly focused in keeping the Upper Chamber under the control of the Republican Party.

They feared that a victory for Hillary Clinton would end up costing them the sacred Senate. Why is the Senate so important? Whereas the House holds the power of the purse, the Senate controls the judiciary appointments in the country.

Decades ago, Conservatives understood that the best strategy to cast their vision of a country is to control the Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal. This control over the Senate allowed Mitch McConnell to withhold a seat in the Supreme Court during Obama's final year.

Before Trump's unexpected ascension, it would be insane to imagine that the powerful lobbying group conspired against a Republican President, the free market and, supposedly, small Government party.

But Trump, with a little help from Steve Bannon, understood that his constituency (in his mind customers and TV viewers) was not in Conservative think tanks at the other side of the White House, but in the unemployment offices in Michigan, and in ranches in Texas, and in the four mines still operating in Wyoming. The people's tycoon began a crusade, rooted in economic and social reality, against free trade. His first enemy? NAFTA. The jewel in the crown of the Chamber of Commerce. The Rockstar of commercial treaties. The tool that placed Mexico in the global Economic map, Public Enemy number one in the anti-immigrant narrative he created for his constituency. 

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