Mexico’s plan to bestow the country’s highest honor for foreigners on Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump and an advisor, has generated harsh words from critics who called the trade-related move inappropriate.
Government officials said Tuesday Kushner would receive the Order of the Aztec Eagle “for his significant contributions” to a preliminary new trade deal reached in September between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The deal, to be called U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, would update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump threatened to scrap because he said it unfairly benefited Mexico.
“Mr. Kushner’s participation was decisive in the beginning of the process of renegotiating NAFTA, and in preventing the United States’ unilateral exit from the treaty,” the Mexican government said in a statement.
The preliminary deal requires approval by legislators in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Kushner is close with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray.
Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was expected to bestow the honor on Kushner at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires this week. President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office Saturday.
The government’s decision to honor an official in the Trump administration stunned many in Mexico, which has endured repeated attacks by Trump since the first day of his presidential campaign. Trump has described Mexican immigrants in the U.S. as rapists and drug dealers, has vowed to make Mexico pay for a costly border wall and has said bluntly of Mexico: “They are not our friend, believe me.”
On Twitter, historian Enrique Krauze called the move to honor Kushner “a supreme act of humiliation and cowardice.”
Fernando Belaunzaran, a Mexican congressman with the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution, said on Twitter that Kushner is the “son-in-law and accomplice of a narrow-minded and anti-Mexican racist.” He called the honor “an indignity.”
The outrage echoed the widespread anger felt in the summer of 2016, when Peña Nieto invited then-candidate Trump to Mexico. That attempt at dialogue, and other efforts to work with a U.S. president who has insulted Mexico have cost Peña Nieto politically, with polls this year showing that 75% of Mexicans disapprove of the way he has responded to Trump.
Peña Nieto leaves office as a series of corruption scandals have plagued him and prominent members of his family. Only 24% of Mexicans approved of the job he’s done, according to a recent poll.
Past recipients of the Order of the Aztec Eagle include Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez and several kings and queens.