Tears, fears and lots of beers: Inside a Mexican bar the night Donald Trump won the presidency

Patrons at a Mexico City bar react to Donald Trump's surprise victory Nov. 8.
(Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)

The Mexican dive bar was dimly lit.

And as the results of the U.S. presidential election began to roll in, it seemed to grow considerably darker.

Donald Trump was winning. The way Luz Enco saw it, that meant Mexico and Mexicans were losing.

“It feels like that they don’t want us,” said Enco, 33, a Mexico City real estate agent. “It’s a sign that America is not a place for us.”


“I can’t believe it,” said her friend Adriana Garcia, 30. “It’s like we are officially not welcome in the U.S.”

The whole world was riveted by the unexpected outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election, in which Trump upset Democrat Hillary Clinton despite polls that predicted otherwise.

But there is perhaps no country besides Mexico where the results felt so personal.

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In his year-and-a-half-long campaign, Trump threatened to withdraw from free trade agreements and cut off remittances to Mexico. He vowed to deport masses of immigrants in the U.S. illegally and to build a towering border wall.

The Mexican peso plummeted upon news of a Trump win as the country’s finance officials scheduled emergency meetings.

At the bar located on the first floor of an old American Legion meeting hall in Mexico City, crowds of Mexicans and their American expatriate friends slumped in their seats and shook their heads in disbelief.

“I’ve never been more ashamed,” said Michael Snyder, a 28-year-old American writer, shortly after CNN called Pennsylvania in Trump’s favor. “I don’t know how to internalize this.”

Patrons in a Mexico City bar watch as Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech
Patrons in a Mexico City bar watch as Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech
(Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times )

The night had begun much more cheerfully, with around 200 patrons crammed shoulder-to-shoulder and a man who usually works as a dishwasher deployed to the front door to turn people away. Bartenders barely managed to keep the refrigerators stocked with beer.

“Here’s to being on the right side of the wall!” one man joked, clinking glasses with friends.

But as the polls closed and state after state slid in Trump’s direction, the mood in Mexico began to sour.


There didn’t appear to be a Trump supporter in the room. Still, arguments erupted as the night wore on and the alcohol took hold.

Friends debated whether one-time Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders could have defeated Trump. Others angrily railed against America’s two-party system.

One of the most pressing topics was whether President-elect Trump will really try to carry out the policies he has threatened against Mexico.

Bar owner Grant Badger said he thinks Trump’s threats were part of his election technique.


“I don’t know if he’s really interested or capable of carrying out these policies,” said Badger, a Washington native, who said Trump’s proposals to withdraw from or rewrite some trade proposals could have catastrophic consequences.

“The world economy could be really doomed,” he said.

A friend stepped behind the bar to embrace him. “I have to go home,” Jessica Churgin, 29, moaned. “I can’t do this anymore.”

As a Trump victory became more and more apparent, the crowd thinned considerably. But a few people stayed around to watch until the end.


Trump was declared the winner and took the stage, pledging to “be president for all Americans.” The crowd in Mexico shouted insults at the screen.

Alexandra Baker, 28, cries as she watches Donald Trump's first speech as president-elect from Legion Americana bar in Mexico City
Alexandra Baker, 28, cries as she watches Donald Trump’s first speech as president-elect from Legion Americana bar in Mexico City
(Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times )

“It’s going take me a couple of days to reconcile the fact that this is our reality,” said Alexandra Baker, 28, of Santa Barbara, who was crying quietly in a corner.

“I was hoping to see the Obama dream continue into the future,” said Baker, who is teaching in Mexico on a Fulbright program. Her voice was barely audible because of too many cigarettes and too much shouting.


Baker said many members of her partner’s family are immigrants living in the U.S. without permission. While she is concerned about what Trump’s victory means for Mexico, she said she is more concerned with Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.

“I’m worried that they will continue to live in fear of deportation for years,” she said.

As closing time neared, gloomy bar patrons sought out one final drink or smoke before heading out into the rain.

“We just burned Rome,” a man bellowed. “Now someone give me a cigarette.”


Twitter: @katelinthicum



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