'A humiliation': outcry after Mexico president gives highest honour to Jared Kushner

Enrique Peña Nieto to hand Trump son-in-law the Order of the Aztec Eagle for trade work

The outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has stunned the country by bestowing the nation’s highest honour for foreigners on Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and son-in-law of Donald Trump.

Peña Nieto praised Kushner as “a grand ally of Mexico” who helped achieve a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico.

The revised agreement – now known as Usmca – is expected to be signed in Buenos Aires during the G20 summit. Peña Nieto will decorate Kushner with the Order of the Aztec Eagle in the Argentinian capital this week.

Peña Nieto was quoted by Mexican media as saying: “He has been an important actor in this objective of having a good understanding of the new government that entered two years ago.”

Trump repeatedly disparaged Mexicans during his improbable rise to power. He still threatens to close the US-Mexico border over a caravan of Central American migrants in the city of Tijuana.

Mexicans on Tuesday voiced their outrage over Kushner receiving the Order of the Aztec Eagle, whose past recipients include Queen Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela.

“Giving [Kushner] the Aztec Eagle is a supreme act of humiliation and cowardice,” tweeted historian Enrique Krauze.

Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics, said: “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 crotch for Mexicans.”

In August 2016, the then finance minister Luis Videgaray – now the foreign minister – convinced Peña Nieto to invite then candidate Trump to Mexico City for a meeting at the presidential palace. In a joint media appearance afterwards, Trump again pledged to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Peña Nieto appeared acquiescent as he stayed silent – at least until Trump left the country. At a campaign rally later that night, Trump continued to publicly criticise Mexico.

Kushner is thought to have forged a close relationship with Videgaray, who resigned from cabinet after the fiasco of Trump’s visit to Mexico, but was brought back to the foreign ministry on the eve of the US presidential inauguration. Analysts say Mexico has pursued a “son-in-law strategy” in its attempts to deal with the Trump administration.

Bravo said the jury was still out on the strategy’s success. “It has all happened behind closed doors,” he said. “It’s palace politics. At its worst.”

Peña Nieto leaves office as a loathed figure on 30 November after six years of corruption and conflict-of-interest scandals. His approval rating hovers at just 24%, according to pollster Consulta Mitofsky.


David Agren in Tijuana

The GuardianTramp

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