Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto will leave his post in just a few days. But in one of his last acts as head of state, he has sparked outrage with a desperate and bizarre act of pro-Trump bootlicking.
Highest honour for non-Mexicans
On 28 November, Peña Nieto announced that he will bestow Mexico’s highest honour for non-Mexicans on White House advisor and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. He will receive the ‘Order of the Aztec Eagle’ later this week at the G20 summit in Argentina.
Others who have received the award include Gabriel García Márquez, Nelson Mandela, and Haile Selassie I.
Peña Nieto indicated that Kushner would receive the award because of his work renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump initiated a partial reworking of the treaty earlier this year. The new agreement – Usmca – will also be signed at the upcoming G20 summit.
He has been an important actor in this objective of having a good understanding of the new government that entered two years ago.
Ridicule across the board
The move met with ridicule from experts on Latin American affairs and other commentators on social media. Historian Enrique Krauze tweeted in Spanish that awarding Kushner was “a supreme act of humiliation and cowardice”, especially considering that Trump is the man who shamelessly called Mexicans drug dealers, criminals, and rapists only three years previously. Then again, Peña Nieto has been weak on Trump’s hostile rhetoric since before the latter’s election in 2016. But that didn’t stop some people hoping it was “fake news”:
Cannot believe the reports that say that Jared Kushner will be honoured by Mexico with the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest Mexican order that may be awarded to foreigners for their services given to Mexico.
For Chrissake, please tell me this is fake news.
— Yves Hayaux du Tilly (@YHayaux) November 27, 2018
New York Times columnist Don Winslow, meanwhile, tweeted about the people who really deserve an award – Mexican journalists:
This is such bullshit. Really nuts.
This award should be given to the brave Mexican journalists who risk their lives every day to tell the truth about what is really happening in their country! A country they love and are fighting for. https://t.co/wEK95m3cTC
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) November 28, 2018
Others simply expressed sheer astonishment:
What exactly has Kushner done for Mexico or humankind???? pic.twitter.com/bctqWEhhLR
— Kris Colvin (@KrisColvin) November 27, 2018
Hard to find anyone in Mexico who's happy with EPN's decision to make one of his final acts as president be bestowing Mexico's highest honor on Jared Kushner. He leaves office with 26% approval—and that was before announcing the award. Turns out some things can unite Mexicans. https://t.co/qIPQ5krfK6
— Carin Zissis (@CarinZissis) November 28, 2018
And some asked if the outgoing president might have ulterior motives, especially considering that renowned Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández has long argued that collusion between drug cartels and the Mexican state goes all the way to the top, and that Peña Nieto currently faces accusations (which he denies) from the legal team of notorious drug lord El Chapo of accepting bribes from his cartel:
Bribes work. Peña Nieto is looking for asylum in the US once his drug connections come out in the Chapo legal dealings. Nobody else but Trump will protect foreign murderers and sleaze.⚡️ “Mexico to award highest foreigner honor to Jared Kushner”https://t.co/bp63TMWO8Z pic.twitter.com/ldsbLz42da
— Peter C. Holder (@wobble_c) November 28, 2018
Whatever Peña Nieto’s reasons for the bizarre decision to honour Kushner, it certainly seems like brown-nosing in the first degree. And it wouldn’t be surprising. Because soon-to-be-inaugurated president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador looks set to shake things up when he takes office in December. Perhaps the highly criticised Peña Nieto knows that he might soon face his comeuppance.
Featured image (adapted) via Ken Bosma/Flickr
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