Biden in Mexico for assembly with President López Obrador

Within the first go to to Mexico by a U.S. chief in virtually a decade, President Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday to debate commerce, the drug battle and file ranges of illicit immigration in a wide-ranging dialog that was principally cordial however at one level turned testy because the Mexican chief demanded his U.S. counterpart do extra to assist the area.

“End with this forgetfulness, this abandonment, this disdain toward Latin America and the Caribbean,” López Obrador informed Biden in a gathering on the Nationwide Palace in Mexico Metropolis. López Obrador stated Biden was uniquely poised to enhance life throughout a area beset by inequality, telling him that “you hold the key in your hand.”

Biden responded by saying that america had invested “tens of billions of dollars” in Latin America within the final 15 years, whereas additionally donating greater than every other nation globally to causes worldwide.

The U.S. “responsibility,” Biden stated pointedly, extends effectively past the Western Hemisphere.

President Biden, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks throughout a gathering with Mexico’s president.

(Andrew Harnik / Related Press)

The sharp change, as TV cameras rolled, dramatized a few of the daunting challenges dealing with the 2 nations at what Biden known as an “inflection” level that will “determine what the world looks like” in coming a long time.

The 2 nations are beneath strain to work collectively on points together with drug smuggling and immigration although they’ve generally starkly divergent views on these and different matters, together with overseas coverage, vitality and local weather change.

Biden and the leftist Mexican chief will meet on Tuesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, bringing collectively the leaders of the three nations that symbolize a couple of third of worldwide financial output.

It’s the second so-called Three Amigos summit, because the trilateral conferences are informally identified, to be held after a a number of 12 months hiatus in the course of the presidency of Donald Trump, who eschewed many diplomatic traditions.
Trump by no means got here to Mexico whereas in workplace, although he developed a pleasant relationship with its chief, regardless of López Obrador’s leftist pedigree and Trump’s frequent rhetorical broadsides concentrating on Mexico and Mexican immigrants.

López Obrador’s relationship with Biden has been cooler. He waited greater than a month to congratulate Biden after he beat Trump within the 2020 election, and final 12 months he boycotted a serious regional summit in Los Angeles as a result of Biden didn’t invite the authoritarian regimes of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Regardless of the tensions on show Monday, analysts usually seen the summit and its promise of dialogue as a optimistic step amongst strategic and financial allies.

The trilateral summit, stated Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Heart at Rice College’s Baker Institute, “shows that Biden is very serious about engaging both Canada and Mexico again, leaving the relative isolationism of the Trump administration behind.”

President Biden speaks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

President Biden speaks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, proper, at an airport north of Mexico Metropolis on Sunday.

(Andrew Harnik / Related Press)

The journey started amicably late Sunday, when López Obrador met Biden on the new Felipe Angeles Worldwide Airport, a prized infrastructure challenge of the Mexican president, and rode with him into the capital in Biden’s limousine; the following day, López Obrador described the encounter as “very pleasant” and referred to as Biden “a friendly person.”

The Mexican and U.S. presidents and their groups met Monday at Mexico’s Nationwide Palace.

On the agenda had been matters which have come to outline the bilateral relationship, together with immigration and the drug commerce.

Biden “is looking to dive deep on a set of issues that are priorities for his administration,” U.S. nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan informed reporters in Mexico Metropolis. These considerations, Sullivan stated, embody the smuggling from Mexico of fentanyl, an artificial opioid blamed for the deaths of tens of hundreds of individuals in america.

U.S. authorities wish to see Mexico do extra to focus on clandestine drug labs and clamp down on smuggling of the substance.

Mexican officers, meantime, have lengthy referred to as on Washington to chop down on the illicit trafficking of weapons — together with assault rifles — from america to Mexico. The arms typically find yourself within the palms of organized crime teams that maintain huge sway via a lot of Mexico.

How finest to deal with smuggling and arranged crime has been some extent of competition between the 2 nations since López Obrador took workplace. The nations’ long-standing safety partnership practically crumbled in 2020, when the U.S. arrested retired Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos — Mexico’s protection minister from 2012 to 2018 — at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport, accusing him of conspiring with drug traffickers. The Mexican army was outraged, and López Obrador threatened to withhold future safety cooperation with the U.S. until Cienfuegos was freed.
The U.S. dropped the costs in opposition to Cienfuegos and he was returned to Mexico, the place he went free. López Obrador angered U.S. legislation enforcement when he accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of making an attempt to border Cienfuegos, calling the costs “garbage.”

However U.S. officers privately say that tensions have diminished lately and López Obrador’s administration has delivered repeatedly on one key U.S. precedence: the arrest of high-profile drug kingpins.

Days after López Obrador met with Biden on the White Home in July 2021, Mexican forces captured Rafael Caro Quintero, a cartel member believed to be behind the killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985.

Many right here have speculated that the Mexican authorities’s recapture final week of Ovidio Guzmán, son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, might have been one other “gift” to Washington forward of Biden’s go to.

Immigration, too, has been a supply of bilateral pressure — and in latest months of joint cooperation.

U.S. authorities recorded greater than 2 million detentions of migrants alongside the U.S.-Mexico border, a file, in the course of the fiscal 12 months that ended Sept. 30.

Days earlier than Biden arrived in Mexico Metropolis, his administration introduced a controversial shift in immigration coverage that appeared to have Mexico’s blessing.

In recent times, at the same time as a whole bunch of hundreds of migrants from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere had been swiftly expelled beneath Title 42, a public-health rule invoked by Trump, migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and another nations had been usually allowed to enter the U.S. and pursue asylum hearings. That’s partly as a result of their residence nations had been too unstable or too politically at odds with Washington for officers to coordinate large-scale returns, and partly as a result of Mexican officers on the border refused to simply accept returnees from these nations after they had been detained in america.

In October, because the variety of Venezuelan migrants elevated, U.S. and Mexican authorities introduced that Venezuelans arriving on the border with out authorization would quickly be returned to Mexico.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador greets President Biden at the National Palace in Mexico City.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador greets President Biden as he arrives on the Nationwide Palace in Mexico Metropolis on Monday. The leaders later had a pointy change throughout their summit.

(Andrew Harnik / Related Press)

Beneath the brand new tips, the border expulsion coverage has expanded additional: Migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti who cross into the U.S. with out authorization can even instantly be despatched again to Mexico, even when they’re looking for asylum, officers say. Mexico has agreed to simply accept a complete of as much as 30,000 deportees from the 4 nations every month. López Obrador stated on Monday that Mexico may be keen to simply accept much more deported migrants.

Immigrant advocates have denounced the plan as a human rights violation that denies folks the elemental proper to file claims for refuge in america.

Whereas the leaders have tried to painting themselves as a united entrance on immigration and combating crime, they’re overtly at odds over López Obrador’s nationalist vitality insurance policies.

Since taking workplace in 2018, the Mexican president has tried to roll again a constitutional reform instituted in 2013 by his predecessor that opened the door to extra overseas involvement within the vitality sector. The U.S. and Canada argue that these efforts discriminate in opposition to U.S. and Canadian corporations and favor Mexico’s state oil firm and its nationwide electrical energy utility.

In July, the U.S. and Canada filed a proper grievance in opposition to Mexico beneath the nations’ joint commerce deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Settlement.

One seemingly level of competition between Biden and López Obrador is local weather change, a precedence difficulty for the Biden administration, however not one as overtly embraced by the Mexican president.

López Obrador has reactivated coal crops, halted new renewable vitality tasks, spent billions constructing a state-owned oil refinery and has pushed laws that will require Mexico’s electrical firm to take extra energy from state-run crops, that are fueled largely by crude oil and coal.

His insurance policies, stated Payan of Rice College, couldn’t be extra completely different from these of Biden, who has pushed for historic investments in clear vitality and is looking for to wean the nation and world off fossil fuels.

“The Biden administration is very committed to combating climate change,” Payan stated. “ And I think Mexico has to be part of it.”

Occasions workers author Tracy Wilkinson in Washington and particular correspondent Cecilia Sánchez in Mexico Metropolis contributed to this report.