It took 19 months for the President of Mexico to announce his first work trip abroad. But the destination and moment he chose are the object of multiple criticisms.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) will pay an official working visit to Washington DC on July 8 and 9, where he will hold a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.
AMLO has maintained since last week that its intention is to ratify the entry into force of the new Mexico-United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement, the T-MEC, which entered into force on July 1.
And he expects Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Tr u deau to attend as well, but as of Wednesday there was no public confirmation from Ottawa.
However, the opinions of diplomats and analysts in Mexico, and some leaders of the Mexican community in the US, have been negative due to the political connotation surrounding the meeting.
And it is that for many, Trump looks like an electoral calculation to show himself next to the president of Mexico, a country that he has fiercely attacked since he launched his presidential candidacy in 2016.
Ahead of the upcoming US presidential elections in November, analysts believe the president is trying to take advantage of his voters and the Latino voting community of some 15 million.
The announcement of the visit to the US was surprising, since AMLO made it clear from the beginning of his government that he would not be a protagonist of foreign policy: “We will first attend to our home and thus we will have prestige abroad “he pointed out before taking power.
Now he said that his intention is to celebrate the entry into force of the T-MEC and strengthen the economic relationship with the United States, a country that is the main economic partner of Mexico and with which it shares 3,100 km of border.
“I am not the same as others, I am going to represent Mexico in a matter that I consider fundamental for the development of the economy and I am also going to be grateful that the United States government has treated us with respect ,” he said Monday.
But Trump’s respectful treatment of Mexicans is what many question.
Trump began his 2016 presidential campaign with the promise of building a border wall with Mexico, to prevent the arrival of undocumented immigrants. And he launched an attack on Mexicans: “They send us people with a lot of problems, who bring us drugs, crime, rapists.”
And he insists that the wall must be paid by Mexico.
Despite everything, the relationship between the leaders is very cordial after having reached economic and migratory agreements.
The US president has referred to the Mexican as a “socialist” with whom he has a good relationship. “He really is a great guy,” Trump said last week.
In AMLO’s opinion, Trump has changed his speech to Mexico for a “more respectful” one.
But for the internationalist José Antonio Crespo, more than friendship between the leaders, there is a “submission” on the Mexican side.
“Donald Trump is seen by the majority of Mexicans as an enemy of the nation; he insults, despises, threatens Mexicans in general and those who live there. He has called them criminals and even animals. But it is not the case of López Obrador, who he sees in him someone respectful, who even treats him as a friend, “he told the newspaper El Universal.
Prominent Mexican diplomats have also pointed out that there are no reasons for AMLO’s trip to Washington under the current political climate in that country.
The former foreign minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu considered as a normal thing which has bilateral meetings between neighboring countries, with such particular historical and economic relationship. But she criticized the moment of the summit.
“It is never known how the President of the United States, in that peculiar style, will behave in the meeting. He can say something uncomfortable or offensive, even for Mexicans. It would not be the first time to resort to using our country like an electoral piñata , as he has used it on many occasions, “he told the El Financiero newspaper.
In a ForoTv debate program, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda said that there was no practical reason for this trip, since the T-MEC does not require any additional ratification.
“The president has so many open fronts with the United States, and each one so tense, that he concluded that he could no longer indefinitely postpone trying to discuss these issues personally with Trump,” he said.
For his part, former Ambassador Bernardo Sepúlveda warned that the trip is “highly inconvenient for the national interest” due to the “negative political effects” that there will be in both countries and that they will be “lasting”.
“I do not find any political or economic advantage that benefits Mexico (…) I consider, on the contrary, that this visit will negatively affect the national interest, producing an effect of displeasure and rejection among Mexicans, of profound disappointment when the principles are violated that they belong to a traditional foreign policy, where the respectability of the Mexican nation is a supreme and indeclinable value, a value that it is now imperative to keep immaculate, “he said in the newspaper La Jornada.
Other analysts have pointed to the cases of former presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1992 and Enrique Peña Ni e to in 2016, who were frowned upon by US Democrats for their meetings at election time.
Faced with criticism, AMLO defended himself on Wednesday.
“I am not a country vendor, to put it clearly, so they don’t get worried or confused. You can have a very good relationship with a country like the United States, which is a neighboring country, maintaining our decorum , our dignity, our independence , our sovereignty, “he said.
Some Mexican leaders in the United States have also viewed the meeting in Washington negatively.
Armando Vazquez-Ramos, founder of the Center for California-Mexico Studies, maintained that it may be the “worst diplomatic mistake of his administration” when meeting with a president “despised in the world for his racism and hatred against Mexicans, immigrants and women” .
“For the 40 million Mexicans living in the United States, it would be shameful and an insult that President López Obrador’s first visit abroad was to help re-elect the worst president in the history of this country,” he wrote in an article.
Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos considered the meeting a “manipulation” of Trump and a “betrayal and indifference to the 12 million Mexicans, born in Mexico, who live in the United States.”
Many users in social media are outraged and have made several hashtags like
#LopezObraDog and have uploaded many meme pictures that despise his visit to the white house
“History will judge Trump harshly. But also those who became silent complicit in his racist and anti-immigrant policies. It is always dangerous – and not worthy – to appear alongside a bully and a promoter of intolerance,” he added in his column. from the Reforma newspaper.
However, Larry Rubin, representative in Mexico of the Republican Party, told El Heraldo de México that ” AMLO is very seasoned and will know how to handle himself very well in Washington.”
“It is very, very important in commercial terms that the two leaders sit down, dialogue, agree and see that it is the best thing for both nations,” he said.
For AMLO, the trip may also be an opportunity to solve problems such as the suspension of work visas recently announced by Trump.
He considered that thanks to the good relationship with the Trump government, other disputes have been resolved : “They always attend to our demands.”
López Obrador confirmed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not attend the meeting in Washington.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, will not attend the meeting that he will hold next Wednesday with the US president, Donald Trump, due to the entry into force of the T-MEC.
“We made the invitation to Canada but decided not to be there,” López Obrador said in his usual morning conference.
Trudeau “cannot attend this meeting on Wednesday,” he added.
As of Friday, the Canadian Prime Minister had not defined whether he would travel to Washington. AMLO said that Trudeau asked him for a phone conversation later on Monday morning.
The new North American trade agreement, the T-MEC, came into force on July 1, and to celebrate it, López Obrador will make an official visit to the United States on July 8 and 9, his first international trip since he assumed power in December 2018.
The president reiterated that the purpose of his trip “is the beginning of this new stage, in these new trade relations with the United States and Canada and the entry into force of the treaty.
The T-MEC replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been in force since 1994 but was harshly criticized by Trump, who pressured his partners to negotiate this new agreement.
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reported that he gave negative to the test of covid-19 that was carried out, despite not having symptoms, for the trip that he will make this Tuesday to the United States.
“I took the test because I have to leave the country, although, I repeat, I do not have any symptoms, and that is why I had not had the test,” López Obrador said Tuesday in his usual morning conference.
López Obrador travels to Washington on Tuesday afternoon on a commercial flight for an official work visit between Wednesday and Thursday. He will hold a meeting with US President Donald Trump, focused on the T-MEC, the new trade agreement for North America.