The desperate and bizarre act of pro-Trump bootlicking that’s sparked outrage in Mexico and beyond

US and Mexican flags next to each other
Peter Bolton

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.

‘Grand ally’

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.

Peña Nieto described Kushner as “a grand ally of Mexico”. And he added:

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”:

New York Times columnist Don Winslow, meanwhile, tweeted about the people who really deserve an award – Mexican journalists:

Others simply expressed sheer astonishment:

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:

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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