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tv   Amanpour on PBS  PBS  July 3, 2018 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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won in a landslide on a waive of voter anger of corruption and crime. imagine this, at least 136 politicians around this massive election have been assassinated since last fall. he pledges to work with the united states based on mutual respect. and he ex-changed polite messages with president trump. in the campaign, he has said mexico is not the pinata of any foreign government.
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my next guest served as the ambassador there. after working for more than three decades on u.s.-latin relations in the state department. jacobson left her post in may saying the strains and relations position untenable, and the ambassador is joining me now from washington. welcome to the program. >> thank you, christiane, nice to be with you. >> i know the polls had him raring and racing ahead. were you surprised at the extent of his landslide victory? >> i was surprised as large as it was over 50% but not that he won, he had been ahead in all the polls and mexicans, a huge number of them were fed up with traditional politicians and remember that one in five voters in this election in mexico were first time voters. >> so you have met with him, you've discussed with him and talked to him, what should the people of the united states, the people of mexico and latin
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america in fact know about him and what he plans to do? >> one of the things to know about him is he ran as the consummate outsider.& although he's a career politician as you noted. he was mayor of mexico city. the other thing is that the top issues on mexicans minds in this election were corruption and the violence which was taken so many lives and is on track again to be a record year over 30,000 killed in probably drug-related violence, and that he promised a lot of thuings to a lot of people. he said things that are sort of all over the map on the economy and other relationships so we are not sure which way he'll govern. >> some people concerned say he may end up being like hugo chavez, a very populist, military leader of venezuela.
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others say he's sort of mexico's answer to trump. but then others say he's anti-trump. i mean who is he? >> mexicans know him pretty well from the twelve years he's been running for president. but they're not necessarily sure of his positions. the first thing to understand is, i don't believe he's either hugo chavez or donald trump. he's a career politician, he's not a military man. his relationship with the military have been somewhat strained. he also is someone that was responding to a disgust with politicians from the two major parties that governed mexico over the last 100 years. the expectations for him are huge. i don't see the economic policy despite his focus on social programs and programs for the
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poor being truly radical. yes, this is somebody who -- i think the biggest fear is will he govern as a democrat committed to the institutions of government. there were some comments he made like i alone can do these things. >> i think there are certain signals to watch for. i think that civil society and independent groups in mexico will need to be very vigilant, although he's occasionally dismissed those groups. some of the things to look for is, does he move forward with mexico's plan, which was passed by congress and is over a year overdue. so a point that independent attorney general that will outlive his tenure.
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because it is only one six-year term. will he continue and he spoke little about this in the campaign with rather extensive judicial reform to move towards an oral adversarial system such that we have in the united states, which is critical to implement the rule of law in mexico that will undergird everything they do in security and economics. there are early signs that i think people can look for to see whether he's consolidating power or does he make changes on the supreme court that looked like consolidation of power. one of the things people are concerned about which is legitimate is that his party morena got comfortable majority in congress. the question is where will the checks on power come from and will he abide by the checks and balances as he moves forward. >> of course the people were motivated by this anger and they had enough of this endless and endemic corruption and
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violence that we just described. i guess the jury is out on how he's going to resolve that and people are incredibly concerned about their jobs. what is your analysis of how president trump's desire and distaste for nafta, a desire to renegotiate and talking about how mexico, like many other countries, is taking advantage of the united states. how will that and what obrador says impact just basic jobs on both sides of the border? >> well, it's interesting, because on the issue of nafta which is so crucial of the questions of jobs on both sides of the worder, he said he thinks the current government has done a pretty good job at trying to renegotiate nafta, the current mexican government. his own potential negotiator for
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nafta said he thought they could wrap it up in the next few months. of course, that depends on good deal on the united states since there are some sticking points that this administration is not willing to compromise on and things were not expected. i also think that in the question of the vilify case of mexicans that we've seen from the president, that mexicans are united on, that that can't be accepted. one of the reasons his predecess predecessor's approval rating is so low is because he didn't push back early enough in a way that they felt defended their honor. i do think we'll see some rhetorical push back but it is possible as a nationalist and a populist playing to his own political base that he may have something in common with president trump. >> let me play this sound bite from president trump about this very issue last month. this was what he said about
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mexico and nafta and et cetera. >> they're our allies that take advantage of us economically. i agree. i love canada, i love mexico, i love them. but, mexico is making over $100 billion a year and they're not helping us with our border because they have strong laws and we have horrible laws. >> you know it is a little bit hard to sort of draw all the strings of that together. but let's just take on taking advantage of us. can you just lay out the problem that the united states thinks it has with mexico and how will this affect jobs on both sides of the border? >> i am afraid i am not sure i can lay out exactly the way in which the president believes mexico is taking advantage of us because it is not a position that i agree with. you know both mexico and the united states as well as canada have done fairly well under
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nafta with displacement of certain jobs, there is no doubt. we are talking about trade that's gone up 430% in those years and we trade a billion six across our border everyday. there are 33 states in the united states which have mexico as their first second or third trading partners. obviously critically important to many of our states. i think you know where he's coming from may be the size of our deficit in goods and our trade deficits. the fact that we have a surplus on services so if you add them together, that deficit is lower. mexico is not one of the highest deficit countries on trade with the united states. and, on the question of immigration and their laws and why and the border, mexico has actually been an extraordinary partner for the united states working closely with us on the
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issue of central american migration which is the majority of migrants that we see nowadays indeed returning very large numbers of central americans to their country and one assumes that means those people are less likely to make it to the u.s. border. i think it is a real distortion of what mexico has done. in 2017, mexico expelled 280 fugitives to the united states. people wanted for murder or rape or child abduction. there is a good deal of cooperation going on that i don't think is valued. >> so you lay it out and in fact some figures there. clearly a lot of diplomats have been pushing back against some of the rhetoric from the white house and the president that they just don't agree with on the factual level and on the policy level. and you have decided to quit the
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state department. you're no longer ambassador to mexico after a 30-year career because of the untenable in your view relations between the two countries. just tell us what triggered that and why you think it's more productive for you to leave rather than stay and try to heal relations. >> i think there comes a point in every diplomat's career, especially mine, which was 31 1/2 years, where, in a position like this, which really was my dream job, i loved being assistant secretary for the hemisphere. i really love mexico and being the ambassador there. you try to have as much influence as possible. you try to speak the truth and weigh in and convey your views. there were a lot of cabinet secretaries that came to mexico during president trump's first year. for me it was a combination of things. among them was this analysis i
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was not having influence on the president even if i felt like a conversation perhaps with secretary tillerson or other cabinet secretaries might have been productive. if in the end the vilify case of mexico continues, the demeaning of its cooperation continues, and the, you know, the kind of language that we have seen from the president continues, i felt i could no longer defend the kinds of policies that were being implemented. along with that was my very real concern that the united states had an approval rating of 60 plus percent in mexico. something that took a long time to achieve. that's dropped by over 30%. >> oh, lord. >> in the last year. that's something you can't earn back quickly. people talk about mexico as being anti-mexican, it is not
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any longer. that has really changed. we are treading, we are putting the relationship under so much stress that i felt it was time to speak freely from the outside and hope to have more influence that way. >> you are not the only one. a lot of ambassadors and state department officials have left for broadly the same reasons that you outdined. not having any policy effect and not agreeing with the new policies coming from the white house. the latest is the u.s. ambassador james melvel who says comments from president trump such as criticizing eu and nato allies, saying nato is as bad as nafta, pushed him sort of over the edge. his letter of resignation that says foreign service officers are schooled right from the start that if there ever comes a point where no one can support policy, particularly if one is in position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. you support that because you did the same thing.
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what does it mean for diplomacy and economic cultural, political bonding with america's key allies and those that have underpinned the last 70 years? >> first of all, it doesn't speak well for how our future will go in trying to forge thoers alliances. one of the things that's so disturbing of the current administration is the lack of recognition that we need allies. our allies are critical to us in achieving our own national interests and not just for the sake of it or because it's kind of nice to be friends with people. you forge alliances for the benefit of both sides. this seems to be a zero sum game. and for diplomats, that's almost impossible to reconcile with what we're trained to do. jim was in my ambassador
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training class. he has a huge amount of experience. as you see these people leave, look, some of us were probably towards the end of our careers any way after 30 years. the notion that the views that we espouse and the relationships that we worked so hard to create, not just other governments but with the publics of these countries with their youth, with the next generation, that is not necessarily valued or appreciated nor listened to is a huge loss for america's diplomacy and america's national interest. >> ambassador, former ambassador jacobson, thank you so much, i am going to take this issue up our next guest, because he's also a former ambassador to south korea. this was on the issues which are also incredibly difficult for the united states like trying to denuclearize north korea. after a friendly summit with the
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leader kim jong-un in singapore last month, president trump tweeted that the country is no longer a nuclear threat. is it, though? analysts say new satellite images showing of the build up rather than the opposite. mike pompeo heads to north korea for the third time trying to nudge this ball down the field. to help us pick out real progress from empty promises, our former ambassador to south korea and negotiator for george w. bush, christopher hill. welcome to the program. i want to pick up of what former ambassador jacobson just said in this slew of resignations. from your perspective, diplomacy, whether it's in north korea, south korea, latin america, europe, wherever it might be, is it being undermined currently? is there a strategy afoot for the current u.s. administration? >> i think there is a real problem obviously and i don't see the end of it.
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i see a new secretary of state who seems to be dedicated to the task to rebuild the state department. the problem is ambassador jacobson kind of laid out if the state department is rebuilt and the message from the president is completely contrary to any conceivable definition of u.s. interests with a particular country. this demonization of mexico, they're going to be our neighbor for the next thousand years and there is no getting around that and the treatment of the mexicans was simply not enough to -- i mean, for the president to say i love mexico, it's kind of a meaningless gesture when he's also calling them, you know, by the names he's called them. if you are an ambassador there, it is hard to have any credibility whatsoever. people only talk to you if they have the sense that you represent the country or the president or the secretary. a lot of ambassadors are having
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problems with that. >> fast forward to the far east where your former area of operations look like there is some progress towards diplomacy. so start out by telling me your analysis of the diplomacy including the historic handshake between president trump and kim jong-un. where do you think that's leading? >> it is hard to say at this point. i think getting someone to do something when you are shaking their hand as opposed to shaking your fist is the right approach. now, there is a lot of criticism of the president perhaps going a little too far in embracing kim jong-un but i think the overall notion that you should have, some type of cordiality as you deal with these life and death issues is the right approach. for me, it was a little rich seeing for example the president's national security adviser john bolton smiling and
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shaking hands with the north koreans when i used to get instructions telling me not to shake hands or smile, telling me not to toast my glass. >> from him? >> i think that's important that was the approach -- from him, he was part of that, absolutely. i think it is important now to see what can come of this process and obviously that statement from singapore didn't go very far. the key question will be the diplomacy now to follow. we'll have to see what secretary pompeo can get. and i would humbly suggest that he really needs to come back with something, perhaps along the lines of a nuclear declaration that would include all of their programs, which frankly is something we were not able to get. we were not able to get a verification declaration and that's why we pulled back from it at the end of the bush administration. >> let me ask you the last time we spoke before this summit of sort of failure would be if
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there is no indication of where we are going. you said just a freeze of what they are currently doing is not enough. the ball has to be moved down the field. president trump when he left singapore in the press conference with kim jong-un, as he was signing said oh, by the way, they have agreed to destroy the missile engine test sites. apparently american intelligence shows there's been no movement at that test site at all to destroy it. other reports suggest they're building up facility and even materiel. what do you -- how do you you analyze that? >> well, i don't over react to those issues right now. there is also reports that they are rebuilding or building a new cooling tower to replace the cooling tower that they blew up in agreement with us in 2008. so yes, i have seen all those reports and i think though it is important for secretary pompeo
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to sit down with his counterpart. first of all, he's a north korean counterpart being named and he's going to need a team himself which is a whole other subject. let's see what kind of agreement he could get on a sort of build down of their programs. these programs kind of continue even after they're turned off, sort of like a merry go round. so the real question is what secretary pompeo will come back with. one of the key questions as well is what's the architecture of this going to be in the u.s. talks to north korea and we tell the chinese what we agreed on or tell the south koreans or the japanese. there has to be some multilateral architecture so that the countries in the region know what's going on and have their interest at heart. i am concerned of this singular focus only on north korea and not enough in i think bring
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those countries into actual negotiations. >> before i just throw a little bit of an interview from john bolton, the aforementioned, what do you make of the president agreeing to stop, suspend, basically halt joint mill stair exercises with south korea? >> well, first of all, he was talking to the wrong korea. he was talking to the north koreans, so that's a subject that should be addressed within our alliance for south korea. stopping an exercise. look, the world won't end because of that. some of his other comments i think really aided and abetted the north korean cause because the north koreans have for decades asked for the removal of u.s. troops from south korea. to see the president get up and say i'm all in favor of it, must have come as a shock to the north koreans and the south koreans. there is a lot of talk about how the south korean government
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wants to see these negotiations with north korea succeed. it is a so-called prerogative government that has a lot of interest in trying to calm things down with north korea. all true. i think this government of moon jae-in also is concerned of managing the u.s. relationship and if we have a situation where the u.s. is talking to the north koreans of our deployment of south korea, we have a problem on how people are managing that relationship. >> before we end, i want to play you a sound bite, part of an interview of john bolton of how hong it would take to denuclearize. it's a much more aggressive timeline you gave us. you thought at least two years, if at all. the cia people are telling secretary pompeo that they may never give up their 20 or 60 nuclear weapons until the end of the process if at all. this is what john bolton said on sunday. >> we have developed a program and i am sure that secretary of state mike pompeo will be discussing this with the north
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koreans in the near future about how to dismamtle all of their wmd and ballistic missile programs in a year. if they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they're cooperative, we can move very quickly. >> very quickly. is that possible even with the best will in the world? >> you know if the u.s. controls north korea, we can certainly do that inside of a year. frankly this is going to be a more protracted, difficult process. there are a lot of north koreans who don't want to do this at all. and i'm not sure if kim jong-un does. the first step is to stop making nuclear fa materiel, and get that place shut down and list these places so we know what it is they're doing. then i think after that, there should be an effort to go after the fissile material, which depending on their bomb design, could be 20 bombs or 60 bombs. i think there is a lot to be
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done and john bolton knows that very well. i have the sense he's trying to burden the thing with missiles and other issues, which obviously we need to get at. i am not sure if this is an achievable objective as he describes it. >> we'll see what secretary pompeo comes back. ambassador christopher hill, thank you for joining us. just before we go, the white house says that president trump has had a half hour phone call with mexico's president-elect. he said they had quote, a great talk about border security, trade, and nafta. so we'll see where that relationship goes from here. and that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour" on pbs. join us again tomorrow night. >> you're watching p
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>> you're watching "beyond 100 days" on pbs. the global tide of populism sweeps up mexico in a landslide election. >>ers dealt a stunning blow to the country's established political parties. >> this is the new president. he is left wing, in favor of redistribution and against donald trump. >> the new project the nation will seek to establish an authentic democracy. we don't bet on building an open or closed dictatorship. the changes will be profound. >> andres manuel lopez obrador won because mexicans are fed up with violence and corruption.


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