Mexico’s López Obrador, Keen on Trump, Eyes Biden Administration Warily
MEXICO CITY — President Trump referred to as Mexican migrants rapists, threatened his neighbor with a commerce warfare, kicked tens of hundreds of asylum seekers overseas, constructed up the border wall and promised to make Mexico pay for it.
Mexico’s president is an enormous fan.
So profound is his appreciation that when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lastly bought on the telephone for the primary time with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. final month, he made a degree of praising the departing president.
“I need to point out that we do have an excellent relationship with the now president of your nation, Mr. Donald Trump,” Mr. López Obrador stated, in accordance with two folks with information of the decision, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate inner issues. “No matter some other concerns, he respects our sovereignty.”
Involved that Mr. Biden is likely to be extra inclined to meddle in Mexican affairs, Mr. López Obrador has spent the final a number of weeks preemptively poking the incoming administration within the eye.
He was among the many final international leaders to congratulate Mr. Biden on his victory, insisting on ready “till all of the authorized points are resolved.” He not too long ago signed a legislation gutting the flexibility of U.S. drug brokers to behave in Mexico. After which, out of nowhere, Mr. López Obrador provided Julian Assange asylum.
His authorities additionally exonerated a former Mexican protection secretary charged with drug trafficking by American prosecutors, allegations the president stated have been “fabricated” by investigators who “didn’t act responsibly.”
Behind all these perceived slights is a concern that the Democrats usually tend to intervene to advertise labor rights and clear vitality, getting in the way in which of Mr. López Obrador’s formidable agenda at house, in accordance with two officers in his authorities who spoke on the situation of anonymity for concern of reprisals.
“It’s like a canine on the park: He’s gnashing his tooth and threatening you and growling within the hope that you simply gained’t come shut,” stated Shannon O’Neil, a Mexico skilled on the Council on Overseas Relations. “He’s attempting to pre-emptively push again in opposition to engagement by the incoming Biden administration.”
In an announcement, Roberto Velasco, who oversees the North American area at Mexico’s international ministry, stated that the federal government has had a number of conversations with Mr. Biden’s transition group “highlighting the significance that each connect to a very good bilateral relationship.”
He added: “Mexico will proceed to work, inside our Constitutional rules, to foster the most effective relationship between our nation and america. Those that preserve predicting bilateral conflicts will once more be proved fallacious.”
One of many stunning twists in a Trump presidency filled with them has been how a Mexican chief who ran on a leftist, populist platform and as soon as stated Mr. Trump “stokes racism” got here to treat him so extremely.
By all appearances, the connection relies extra on pragmatism than on any deep private friendship. The 2 males share a profound disinterest within the particulars of international coverage and located frequent objective in leaving one another alone.
The phrases of their deal could not have been written, however they have been clear. Mr. López Obrador enforced Mr. Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda and in change, america let him run Mexico as he happy.
In a current speech in Alamo, Texas, Mr. Trump bragged about what number of Mexican troopers Mr. López Obrador had despatched to police the border. “I wish to thank the nice president of Mexico,” he stated. “He is a superb gentleman, a pal of mine.”
On fashion, too, the leaders have been typically aligned. Each campaigned on a promise to root out a corrupt elite, gained with a coalition of voters disgusted with their nation’s institution and, as soon as in workplace, painted the media and the opposition as enemies of their motion.
Simply as Mr. Trump used Twitter to talk on to his base, Mr. López Obrador takes management of the narrative by holding two-hour information conferences day-after-day at which questions are sometimes requested by sympathetic tabloid reporters or YouTubers.
And in 2006, Mr. López Obrador spent months leveling accusations of fraud after he misplaced the presidential election, going so far as to carry a faux inauguration for himself within the capital’s central sq..
“He’s, in a sure sense, similar to Trump,” stated Sergio Aguayo, one among Mexico’s main human rights activists. “The understanding between them was emotional and sensible.”
Mr. Biden is prone to ask extra of Mr. López Obrador.
The president-elect is anticipating a surge of migration from Latin America within the coming 12 months, pushed by the worldwide financial disaster and the notion of a extra sympathetic ear within the White Home, in accordance with a number of folks conversant in his considering. On Sunday, Guatemalan troopers beat again a caravan of hundreds of Central People touring north from Honduras and hoping to succeed in america.
Mexico, which mobilized further safety forces at its southern border to arrange for this newest caravan, is seen as essential to holding off new waves of migrants. And with the pandemic nonetheless raging, the Biden administration can even want Mr. López Obrador’s cooperation in instituting extra coronavirus testing and tracing for individuals who cross the southern border.
However Mr. Biden is unlikely to resort to threats or public humiliation to get Mexico to do what he desires — and that provides Mr. López Obrador a gap to attempt to set the tone for a extra standoffish relationship early on.
Whereas the Mexican president says he desires to keep up “a very good neighbor coverage” with the superpower on the border, he has additionally criticized his predecessors for being “servile and irresponsible by way of implementing our sovereignty.”
Within the current blowup over Mexico’s determination to not press expenses in opposition to the previous Mexican protection secretary, whom america accuses of working for a drug cartel, Mr. López Obrador defended himself by lashing out at American officers. He accused them of conducting “an investigation so irresponsibly and with out proof.”
His actual aim, analysts say, could also be to stoke the resentment of the Mexican public towards American intervention within the drug warfare.
“He’s attempting to activate a sure anti-American streak,” stated Carlos Bravo Regidor, a political analyst and affiliate professor at CIDE, a Mexican college. If he’s profitable, it might change into simpler to reject U.S. affect over his authorities.
“They’re going to stress López Obrador to alter sure insurance policies,” Mr. Bravo Regidor stated, “and López Obrador goes say: ‘See? They’re attempting to intervene in our inner affairs. And we’re not going to permit it.’”
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