Vincente Fox Disses Trump, Lauds NAFTA


Photo by: Frank Lopez

Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox gives a lecture about immigration and U.S.-Mexico relations to a packed house inside the William Saroyan Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Story By: Frank Lopez, Opinion Editor

Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox spoke about the U.S./Mexican economics and immigration to sold out audience in the William Saroyan Theatre on Oct. 18.

His appearance was part of a series of lectures hosted each year by San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, which aims to bring nationally and internationally known speakers that inform and educate the public to the Central Valley.

Fox’s lecture, “Building Bridges: Fixing the Immigration Issue and Strengthening U.S.-Mexico Relations,” focused on the history of U.S.-Mexico economics, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act), and what lies ahead for both countries given President Trump’s stance on immigration and his threats to end the NAFTA trade deals.

Fox, an outspoken critic of Trump during his presidential campaign, made headlines with his strongly worded comment, “I am not going to pay for that f#####g wall,” about Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

In response to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” Fox said that America has always been great.

“All of you come from migrant parents,” Fox said, bringing applause from the crowd. “Your families come from somewhere: Africa, Europe, Asia— that’s what has made this nation great. It’s been great since the very beginning.”

Fox spoke about the rising trend of populism and nationalism in Europe and how demagoguery defined much of Latin America in the 20th Century.

In a tongue-in-cheek jab at Trump, the former president of Mexico described dictators that promise people that government will provide them with jobs, healthcare, and fix the economy, and how they discourage people from following their own initiatives— “does that remind you of somebody?” Fox asked the crowd.

Fox voiced his support for students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying society should respect the sacrifices they make and the hard work they do to become productive members of society.

“If that guy in the White House doesn’t want them [Dreamers], send them back to Mexico. We will take care of them,” Fox said, eliciting strong cheers.

A larger part of the lecture was devoted to details and praise for the North American Free Trade Agreement deal of 1994 which involves the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and created a trilateral trade bloc in North America—effectively removing trade barriers between the three countries.

“U.S.’s brilliant and visionary minds,” along with Canadians and Mexicans in the last 25 years have brought the “NAFTA dream” to reality and it is a “success,” and the U.S. now has a richer Mexico for a neighbor, Fox said.

He claimed that since the signing of NAFTA, the income gap between workers in Mexico and those in the U.S. has been reduced in half and that said in another 25 years, that gap will disappear.

According to a report published by the Council on Foreign Relations, “NAFTA’s Economic Impact,” Mexico has not experienced the promises made by many people who supported the deal—such as rapid growth, raise wages, and reduction of emigration.

However, while both the U.S. and Canada have seen some strong gains from NAFTA,

According to the report, since the signing of the agreement in 1994, Mexico’s unemployment rate has risen, poverty remains at the same levels and the “wage convergence” between Mexico and U.S. workers never occurred.

Wage convergence is an economic theory that holds the hypothesis that poorer economies will grow at faster rates than rich economies, and that eventually, all economies should converge together.

NAFTA has also garnered criticism for exposing Mexican farmers to competition from U.S. subsidized agriculture.

Fox dismissed these criticisms on NAFTA when asked about them at a press conference held after the lecture, and said that the countries should continue with NAFTA and improve it.

“Anything that was originally thought about NAFTA has not come true except the many many good things that NAFTA has brought to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy, and the Mexican economy,” Fox said.

The report does note however, that most studies show that the trade pact had a positive boost on Mexican productivity and consumer prices.

  Fox was a little more liberal with his language during the press conference.

When asked if he had ever personally met Trump, he responded with, “¿ese guey?”, which can be loosely translated to “that idiot?” or “that asshole?” in Spanish.

There were 700 local middle and high school students attending the lecture, and a couple were awarded money from Fox’s charity for education programs.

Emerson Valenzuela, a freshman at Edison High School, attended the lecture and said she enjoyed it.

“He gave lots of insight on a whole bunch of topics I was curious about,” said Valenzuela. “Mainly immigration, especially since that’s a big issue right now.”