Bárcena spent the subsequent two years within the eye of the Trump storm, serving to navigate the finalization of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the implementation of controversial border and migration agreements such because the “Remain in Mexico” coverage, which was crafted to placate Trump and deter migrants in search of asylum within the United States.Bárcena, 63, retired this month after 42 years in Mexico’s international service, the final two of which have been essentially the most uncommon. Trump’s Washington was not a spot for conventional diplomacy, and between pressing conferences with White House adviser Jared Kushner, late-night negotiations with Department of Homeland Security officers and the extreme curiosity of Mexican broadcasters in her trend tastes, Bárcena grew to become a part of the present.“In different embassies, you do international coverage, bilateral relations, that sort of factor,” she mentioned in an interview. “But the job of the Mexican ambassador within the United States may be very totally different. The relationship with Mexico is managed extra at DHS and the White House than the State Department.”Bárcena mentioned essentially the most troublesome second of her profession got here in late spring 2019, amid a file inflow of Central American households arriving on the southern border that was making Trump livid.López Obrador had run for Mexico’s presidency telling crowds he wouldn’t do the “soiled work” of immigration enforcement for Washington and hiring well-known human rights figures from the Mexican left, the place the protection of migrants was sacrosanct.But now Trump was threatening to cripple Mexico’s economic system with escalating tariffs if López Obrador didn’t crack down on Central American households.Mexico’s international minister rushed to Washington to make amends, and Bárcena joined a number of rounds of tense negotiations involving Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and appearing homeland safety secretary Kevin McAleenan.Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was usually the conduit to the president, Bárcena mentioned.“He helped to clean out difficulties and generally conveyed forcefully to us what was the place of President Trump,” she mentioned.Mexico agreed to deploy its personal nationwide guard troops to cease migrants headed to the United States and to take again tens of 1000’s of Central Americans in search of asylum in a broad growth of the Remain in Mexico program, formally referred to as the Migrant Protection Protocols.Soon, tent camps unfold on the Mexican aspect, and 1000’s of oldsters and youngsters have been stranded in harmful border cities. Migrant rights teams denounced López Obrador’s acquiescence, and critics of the Mexican authorities — and Bárcena — noticed a betrayal.“That was essentially the most troublesome second of my profession,” Bárcena mentioned. “Mexico had been very clear what was our nationwide curiosity. We have been making an attempt to guard our nationwide pursuits and take measures that have been much less punishing and fewer dramatic for the populations concerned.”“Did we handle to try this?” she continued. “Yes, and in some instances, no. In time, we’ll have to guage and see — what did we do nicely and in what did we fail — so we don’t need to repeat that situation once more.”Bárcena traveled extensively throughout her put up and met with Democratic Party leaders, mayors and American executives. Earl Anthony Wayne, a retired profession diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico beneath President Barack Obama, mentioned Bárcena “did an exemplary job of strolling the road productively between the 2 governments.”“She had two presidents who very simply may have had large variations,” Wayne mentioned. “It’s a end result for a profession diplomat, to make use of all of your expertise and knowledge from lots of years of labor, to have the ability to preserve this large relationship on an excellent keel and cease it from moving into dangerous instructions.”Bárcena couldn’t cease some parts of the connection from going sideways. In November, U.S. brokers arrested Mexico’s former protection minister, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, on the Los Angeles airport, accusing him of working with a drug cartel. He was the highest-ranking Mexican army official to be arrested on drug trafficking prices.Mexico’s army was outraged, and after López Obrador threatened to curtail narcotics enforcement cooperation with the United States, Cienfuegos was freed, and the fees have been dropped, a humiliation for the Department of Justice. U.S. brokers in Mexico have lengthy struggled with cartel corruption of Mexican safety businesses and leaks of enforcement plans, however Bárcena mentioned the Mexican authorities was blindsided by an arrest that got here with no warning.“It was a lack of belief, which is a foundation for any cooperation in issues of safety and any cooperation,” she mentioned. “We weren’t knowledgeable, at the least formally knowledgeable, regardless that (Attorney General William P. Barr) went to Mexico twice. The incident created distrust and misinterpretation.”Bárcena mentioned she thinks the Cienfuegos episode ought to immediate a wider reexamination of the drug battle partnership between the 2 nations.“Even the time period ‘battle on medicine’ has been a catastrophe,” she mentioned. “Measures targeting punitive actions haven’t introduced the outcomes anticipated, in order that is likely one of the points, after we begin speaking about the way forward for safety cooperation, that must be placed on the desk. What has failed? Why haven’t we reached our targets?”Bárcena served as Mexico’s ambassador to Turkey throughout the Syrian refugee disaster — one of many causes she was picked to handle the connection with the Trump administration throughout a second of rising tensions over migration. She mentioned she’s optimistic that President Biden and López Obrador can work extra productively as a result of they share the aim of selling funding and job creation in Central America to scale back emigration.Mexico has 50 consulates within the United States, which serve roughly 40 million Mexican Americans and Mexican nationals, however she mentioned there are nonetheless just a few issues each nations fail to understand about their neighbors.Mexicans, she mentioned, usually lack an understanding of how U.S. choices are made and the boundaries on the ability of the American presidency. “They don’t perceive the energy of Congress, for instance, or of the numerous choices taken on the state degree. The president of the United States can’t simply order a governor to alter their choice.”Similarly, she mentioned, many Americans fail to acknowledge Mexico’s significance to the United States.“They consider many different nations as simply as essential to the U.S., or extra essential,” she mentioned, “as a result of they don’t notice we’ve been your first or second buying and selling accomplice, in addition to historic hyperlinks, and household and social hyperlinks.”She would love American leaders to have interaction her nation “in a extra constructive method,” she mentioned, “as an alternative of making an attempt to lecture Mexico on what to do on a regular basis.”