By Andrés Oppenheimer
Trump's State of the Union address could pass to history as a case of study on political schizophrenia: the president spoke like a crazy racist demagogue about Mexico, and like a super-wise statesman about Venezuela.
Let's start with Mexico. In his speech, Trump brazenly repeated his false data on immigration to try to convince the country that most Mexicans are "bad men" who invade this country, kill people and steal jobs from Americans. All that is nonsense, with which he tries to maintain the loyalty of the xenophobes who support him.
In his speech before Congress, Trump introduced a guest, Heather Armstrong, whose relatives, he said, were killed by an undocumented immigrant.
"Few can understand your pain", Trump told her. "But I will never forget ... It should not lose an American life anymore because our country has not managed to control its very dangerous border".
That was cheap racist demagogy, because almost all serious studies agree that undocumented immigrants on average commit far fewer violent crimes than Americans born in this country.
A study conducted in Texas by the Cato Institute found that the average number of criminal convictions per 100,000 residents was 899 undocumented immigrants, 611 legal immigrants and 1,797 US-born immigrants.
Why Trump did not present in his speech to any of the thousands of relatives of the victims of serial killers born in the United States? Almost all of them had semiautomatic weapons thanks to Trump's refusal to support security laws against weapons of war.
Why did not Trump even mention serial murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead last year? Or the 58 people who died and nearly 500 were injured in late 2017 by the Las Vegas serial killer, who was also born and raised in the United States?
What is more, the alleged "national crisis" of immigration that Trump spoke of is a sham. In fact, illegal immigration has decreased in the last decade. The number of unauthorized immigrants decreased from 12.2 million in 2007 to 11.3 million today, according to the Pew Research Center.
And Trump's argument of spending $ 5.7 billion of taxpayers' money to build a border wall -which he originally promised Mexico would pay- is ridiculous: almost half of undocumented immigrants do not enter the country illegally crossing the border, but They arrive as tourists through airports or other legal entry points and stay beyond what is allowed on their visas.
But when he spoke of Venezuela, Trump said the right thing. He cited his recognition of Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, which provoked applause from both political sides of the corridor, but he wisely refrained from making empty threats about a hypothetical US military intervention.
I was afraid he would repeat the White House's most recent statements that "all options are on the table" in Venezuela, which has given propaganda ammunition to the Maduro dictatorship.
Maduro is trying to present himself as a presumed victim of US "imperialism" and to change the axis of the conversation, so that instead of talking about his illegitimate presidency and his humanitarian crisis, we speak of a war between the United States and Venezuela.
To his credit, Trump did not enter that game, although it would have been better if he had referred to the United States as part of a coalition of the world's largest democracies that are demanding the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
Of course Trump read this speech from a teleprompter, which allowed his writers and advisors to measure each word.
It would be great if, when Trump returns to his routine of sending tweets and giving speeches to his supporters, we could see the statesman we saw in this speech talking about Venezuela, and not the outrageous racist we saw when he spoke about Mexico. I do not have much hope of that happening, but dreaming costs nothing!
Article originally published at https://hrld.us/2Dl9gsb