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Up Against the Wall: US-Mexico Relations from NAFTA to Trump

By Signe Hammer

How did US-Mexico relations reach their current crisis? On February 20, in the Bellas Artes auditorium, Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy in Mexico City, will discuss “how we got here—facing an uncertain renegotiation of NAFTA, possible mass deportation of Mexicans in the United States, construction of the wall, and a rise in hate crimes—and what people on both sides of the border are doing to reject racism and xenophobia and build new, people-to-people ties between our two nations.”

Carlsen thinks that while the current historic low in relations between our two countries—next-door neighbors that she points out are the most integrated nations in the world—has a lot to do with Donald Trump, there were some serious problems before he made Mexico the fall guy for his America First campaign.

Ironically, the Trump administration’s push to renegotiate NAFTA could produce something Trump would certainly dislike—increased migration from Mexico to the US. When NAFTA was first implemented in 1994, the US flooded Mexico with cheap corn, sending millions of displaced farmers north. One aim of the Trump administration is to increase US agricultural exports. “Right now,” says Carlsen, “we have zero net migration from Mexico to the US as a result, mainly, of lower labor demand since the recession. But if more Mexican farmers are displaced by subsidized US imports, that will change.”

Laura Carlsen describes herself as a feminist international relations analyst and writer based in Mexico City. She has written extensively on NAFTA, the drug war, immigration, grassroots movements, and gender justice for The Nation, the New York Times, and other publications. She is a regular columnist for HuffPost and Foreign Policy in Focus and a frequent commentator on Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera, CNN, and Mexican television and radio stations. She is coeditor of Confronting Globalization: Economic Integration and Popular Resistance in Mexico and host of the Mexican TV show Hecho en America. She is currently working on a book on US-Mexico relations.

San Miguel PEN is a chapter of PEN International, the organization of writers that fights for freedom of expression around the world. The 150-peso admission fee helps fund local activities and includes a free glass of wine with dinner afterward at Vivali, across the street at Hernandez Macias 66. Tickets are available at Ticket Central in the Biblioteca or at the door. For more information, visit



2018 PEN Winter Lecture Series presents

Up Against the Wall: US-Mexico Relations from NAFTA to Trump

Laura Carlsen

In English and Spanish

Tue, Feb 20, 6pm

Bellas Artes Auditorium

Hernández Macías 75

150 pesos




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