A maverick Mexican governor is calling for a Texas boycott in response to Trump’s Carrier deal

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Jaime Rodriguez, center, rides on his horse with supporters after taking the oath as the new governor of Nuevo Leon state in Monterrey, Mexico, October 4, 2015.
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REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

The deal Donald Trump helped orchestrate to keep manufacturing jobs in the US has sparked backlash in the country where those jobs were headed.

In the wake of the deal to keep 1,000 jobs at a Carrier plant in Indiana in exchange for a $7 million incentive package, the governor of Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state has called for Mexicans to stop spending money at businesses in the city of McAllen and of South Padre Island, both in Texas.

“With us not going to McAllen for 15 days, Trump will change his opinion,” said Jaime Rodriguez, the governor of Nuevo Leon who has been nicknamed “El Bronco” for his brusque style.

He won a surprise victory in 2015 as modern Mexico’s first independent governor, and predicted earlier this year that Trump would pull off a victory in the US’s elections.

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital, is an industrial hub and is considered Mexico’s business center. It’s common for Mexicans from the area to travel to McAllen and other nearby parts of Texas for shopping or to spend vacation and time off.

“Stop going to South Padre Island and we are going to do better in China,” a lakeside municipality east of Monterrey, Rodriguez said, adding that other areas in the state would see a boost too if residents spent their money at home.

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Customers squabble over television sets during the shopping season, “El Buen Fin,” at a Walmart store in Monterrey, Mexico, November 18, 2016.
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REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Carrier, which manufactures heating and air-conditioning systems, already has one plant in Nuevo Leon, and the company has built another plant in the state as part of $200 million expansion, though it has not occupied the latter facility.

“We haven’t received any formal notification from the company,” Hector Castillo, mayor of the Santa Catarina municipality where the new plant was slated to open, said on December 1. “In fact, we are working normally with them.”

In recent years, Nuevo Leon has benefited from an influx of foreign firms, and the greater availability of jobs has been credited with helping ease drug-related violence that was common there and continues to wrack northeastern Mexico (though violence has crept up in the state during Rodriguez’s first year in office).

“The implications are very serious, not only for Nuevo Leon, but for Carrier,” Marcela Guerra, a Mexican senator from the state, told the Associated Press of the apparently rescinded deal.

“The one who is going to suffer from this is the company,” she added, “because their products are going to be more expensive.”

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President-elect Donald Trump talks with workers during a visit to the Carrier factory, December 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

With Trump’s rise and attacks on Mexico, the governor has been one of many has called for Mexico to reevaluate its ties to its northern neighbor.

“The US is not the world,” he said at the end of November. “We have a very strong relationship with the US, but we don’t depend on them. They should depend on us.”

“Mexico is waking up to realize that we cannot keep being economically dependent on the USA. This is the lesson: diversify,” Viridiana Rios, a global fellow at the Washington, DC-based Wilson Center and a former adviser to the Mexican finance ministry, told Business Insider after the US election. “And we will. It will take some time, and will be painful in the short term, but will happen.”

The US is Mexico’s biggest trading partner, and Mexico gets most of its foreign investment from the US, but, Rodriguez noted, strained economic relations with the US may push Mexico into closer ties with China and other Asian countries, bringing their products that much closer to the US market. He has his government is looking for investment from Asian and European countries.

While there are few details about Rodriguez’s proposed boycott, the suggestion has caused some consternation on the US side of the border.

The Monterrey branch of McAllen’s chamber of commerce said it would move a quarterly news conference in the Mexican city up to Thursday, though it was not sure which Mexican officials would attend.

Jim Darling, the mayor of McAllen, said on Friday that he was trying to contact the mayor of Monterrey, according to The Monitor. Darling said he was not sure why McAllen was the target.