US President Donald Trump’s wall-building obsession on the Mexican border will have repercussions which I doubt he has considered.
During a World War 2 summit, then US president Franklin Roosevelt pressed UK prime minister Winston Churchill to hand Hong Kong back to the Chinese. Furious at the thought, Churchill asked Roosevelt if he had considered giving Texas back to Mexico. Hong Kong has now been part of China for more than 20 years but Texas is still a US state. While this may look immutable, these are indeed strange times.
For building a wall focuses attention on where the border “should” be, and threatens to let the Latino genie escape the bottle. Apart from Texas, US General Winfield Scott forced the 1848 Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty on the Mexican government, which transferred what became California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for a consideration of $15m. Barely a week earlier, gold nuggets were discovered at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento, givingrise to the California gold rush. As shady real estate deals go, I doubt this was a coincidence.
Successfully asserting historical land claims isn’t easy, as the Argentinians found in the Falklands. But the Chinese succeeded with Hong Kong and the Jews with Israel. As anti-globalist nationalism is on the rise, the Latinos must be in with a chance. The famous Zimmermann telegram (promising the return of these territories on the allies’ defeat), almost brought Mexico in on Germany’s side in World War 1.
There is an overwhelming Spanish/Latino culture in the US, especially in the southern states, and literally millions of Mexicans have been allowed into the country over the years to provide the menial labour that Americans feel beneath them.
With more than 55-million Latinos resident in the US and an expected population increase of 86% between 2018 and 2060, according to US Census data, Trump’s belated attempts to repatriate “illegals” using the “gestapo” and border cages for children has boosted a new generation of Latino(a) activists, of whom the female Zorro Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just one.
If they can garner support from the wider Latino community, US territory could be considerably reduced in 20 years’ time.