Why did the US want Mexican land

In preparing to send National Guard units to the Mexican border, the US government is following a long and sometimes bloody tradition. Above all, President Donald Trump may want to demonstrate strength to the (voter) audience and pretend he is defending against suspected migrant treks. In Mexico, however, the parade also reminds of the unfortunate times of an almost 200-year relationship with the neighbor in the north, which were characterized by inequality, dominance and violence.

Donald Trump's relationship with his weighty neighbor Mexico has always been poisoned. Of course, one does not forget in Mexico that the president won his office also because he skilfully played on the keyboard of racist prejudice against Mexicans and other Hispanic ethnic groups.

Trump put a heavy burden on the largely normalized and well-functioning American-Mexican relations. It is no coincidence that in these times more and more an infamous quote is dug out, which is attributed to Porfirio Díaz, who led Mexico as autocratic president from 1876 to 1911 and cemented the country's economic backwardness with a kind of oligarchic economy: "Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States. "

The real key moment in this unequal relationship, however, dates far earlier. The Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848 - called the North American invasion from a Mexican perspective - marked the climax of the imperial phase of US politics. Subsequently, Washington's need for territorial size was largely satisfied. The country never really developed colonial appetites. As a continental power with two oceans as natural borders and two rather weak states in the north and south, invulnerability was assured.

The war against Mexico followed a simple logic of strength and weakness. The pressure of the settlers was overwhelming and led, especially in Texas, which was then part of Mexico, to an independence movement that Mexico could not stop and that found its myth in the symbolically charged battle for the Fort Alamo. After Texas independence in 1836, the conflict fermented for more than ten years until it came to an end with the advance of General Winfield Scott to Mexico City in 1847 and months later with the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.

Washington conquered a territory that, in addition to Texas, includes the present-day states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The defeat burned itself deeply into Mexico's consciousness because it also revealed the weakness of the central power, which never knew how to rule its vast territory.

Both countries share a 3144 kilometer border - and a lot of prejudice

The war has shaped the relations between the two neighbors to this day because the conflicts that have arisen since then had their origins here: economic inequality, migration pressure and the political dependence on Mexico, which has always been perceived as humiliating. The civil wars in the USA and Mexico might not have broken out without the previous struggle for territory, independence and racial equality.

Today Mexico and the USA share 3,144 kilometers of borders - and an impressive number of prejudices that despite all efforts, especially since the end of the Second World War, have not been dispelled. For too long US politics has intervened in Mexican domestic politics and the economy with open and covert means; too often, the Mexican central government has demonstrated its lack of reliability.

It can be argued for a long time about who has the greatest share in the messed up relationship history. In any case, the clichés are alive: Mexico sends drugs, the USA sends weapons; Mexico enables mass migration, the USA uses the cheap backyard for production and for its own benefit; in the north live the imperialist Yankees, in the south the lazy sombrero-wearers.

It was not until the Mexican growth miracle after the Second World War and the subsequent debt crisis in the 1980s that mutual dependency was anchored in the minds of the ruling class. The North American free trade agreement NAFTA, steps towards a common drug policy and also the discussion about controlled migration are comparatively young ideas in this unequal couple relationship.

The symbol of tension has always been the long and difficult-to-control border. President William Howard Taft sent 100,000 soldiers to Texas when the unrest escalated in 1910 at the end of President Díaz's reign. Taft did not intervene, but the presence was enough to hasten the departure of the unloved ruler. Trump's intentions are less offensive today. However, the sending of troops is perceived as an unfriendly act.