‘No Truck with Trump’

Jorge G. Castañeda, Mexico’s former minister of foreign affairs
By UM News

Jorge G. Castañeda, Mexico’s former minister of foreign affairs

‘No Truck with Trump’

By UM News
Honorary degree recipient Jorge Castañeda urges graduates to help debunk Donald Trump's message

Even commencement ceremonies aren’t immune to the firestorm and controversy that have marked this year’s presidential race.

Two days after Donald Trump won the Indiana primary in a landslide victory, Jorge G. Castañeda, Mexico’s former minister of foreign affairs, used his address at the University of Miami’s graduate degree commencement ceremony on Thursday to blast the presumptive Republican presidential nominee over his negative comments about Mexicans, urging the more than 900 graduates to help disprove and debunk the American businessman’s message.

“There is a great deal this graduating class can do this summer and fall,” said Castañeda, who for the second time is running for Mexico’s presidency as an independent candidate. “Citizens of the United States, Latinos or not, but especially if they come from communities and organizations with large Hispanic populations, must explain to their compatriots…that those messages are lies, are hateful, and are highly noxious for U.S. relations with its neighbors for the type of peaceful and productive and prosperous partnership that everyone desires.”

Castañeda, a key architect of former Mexican President Vicente Fox's campaign, which disrupted seven decades of one-party rule in Mexico, delivered his remarks after receiving an honorary degree at the ceremony, the first of six commencement exercises at the BankUnited Center over the next three days.

Castañeda, who served on the Fox cabinet with UM President Julio Frenk, said Trump has “offended millions of Mexicans, threatened millions of Central Americans, and jeopardized the integrity of hundreds of thousands of families from Latin America in the United States, with or without papers.”

He said Trump has ignored the fact that over the past decade legal immigration from Mexico and Central America has risen sharply while the number of undocumented aliens from those regions has dropped.

“Graduates from prestigious universities with broad collegial harmonious relations among all its diverse members are an example of how this Republican’s vision and distortion have no connection to reality, to life in the United States, in the Hispanic community, and in Latin America,” said Castañeda.

He said Trump’s views are not representative of all Americans, urging graduates to tell their “fellow students, professors, co-workers, and friends from all walks of life to have no truck with Trump.”

Castañeda reflected on what role the graduates might play in the coming years. “The University of Miami has a natural vocation for becoming more than it is already, a link between the United States and Latin America,” he said. “It will obviously not be the only one, but it can acquire a presence in the hemisphere’s institutions of higher education, civil society, government, media, and social media on a much larger scale than today. And you are the principal players in meeting this challenge.”

He called on students to address some of the hemisphere’s biggest challenges, such as the war on drugs, which he said has been “a miserable failure” ever since it was launched by then-President Richard Nixon in 1971.

“Today, the consensus in Latin America, and as importantly, in most of the United States, has shifted,” said Castañeda. “The prohibitionist, punitive approach is being increasingly abandoned, and different forms of decriminalization are being adopted…You can make a major contribution in consummating this change of paradigm, in the U.S. and in Latin America.”

Corruption, he said, has been a longstanding problem in Latin America, but attacking it directly cannot be done without support and information from the U.S. “Miami has always played a central role in this regard, and it is called upon today to exercise more influence than ever before. You can be message-bearers, enforcers, influencers, whistle-blowers, and go-betweens like no others can.”

Santana Moss
Former Miami Hurricane football standout and NFL
wide receiver Santana Moss

Thursday’s ceremony was a joyous occasion for hundreds of students receiving master’s and doctoral degrees, among them, former Miami Hurricane football standout and NFL wide receiver Santana Moss, who earned an M.B.A. degree through the School of Business Administration’s Executive M.B.A. Program for Artists and Athletes.

‘I had always thought about going back to school,” said Moss, 36, who played for 14 years in the NFL for New York Jets and Washington Redskins. “This program was my push.”

He admitted to being “a little nervous” about going back to college after more than a decade out of the classroom, but said the same preparation and dedication he used to prepare for NFL game week in and week out helped him prepare for and succeed in classes.

His degree, he said, will be an inspiration for his 11-year-old daughter, Saniya, that “anything is possible.”

He will work as a football analyst for a local radio station in Washington, D.C., this coming NFL season, and he eventually wants to coach. “I have  a lot of knowledge and wisdom I’d like to impart to young kids.”

Also on Thursday, UM honored its black graduates at the annual Senior Mwambo ceremony, held at Gusman Concert Hall.