Andrés Manuel López Obrador |
By Víctor Almazán
Mexican immigrants organized by the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB), with a presence in Monterey County, demanded Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to cancel the visit that he scheduled this week with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump. Opponents say López Obrador’s visit turns his back on immigrants who oppose what one activist calls the “most racist and anti-immigrant president in the most recent times in this country.”
“We are a few months away from the (presidential) election in the United States,” said Odilia Romero, binational coordinator of the FIOB, in a phone call. “At this moment, the visit is an endorsement of his candidacy.”
Romero, a trilingual translator and the first woman coordinator of the organization, noted that the FIOB supported López Obrador on the three occasions he ran for president. “But that does not prevent us from being critical. We were also critical of (President Barack) Obama, who also promoted an anti-immigration policy. ”
In a letter to the Mexican president, the FIOB notes that he declares “cynically that he comes to see Donald Trump on a ‘state visit,’ not a political one, to thank him for what he has done for Mexico.” On the contrary, the organization says, the American president “has not hidden his racism and hatred against us Mexicans who live in the United States.”
The letter points out the contradiction of a president who won the presidential elections in Mexico by promoting a progressive platform, and now lends himself to be a “collaborator” of the U. S. president, given that “all the proposals of Mr. Trump on immigration have been based on hatred and violation of our most basic human rights. ”
FIOB is not the only organization that’s criticized the Mexican president, commonly called AMLO, and his visit. His trip has drawn the ire of several human rights groups.
Two years ago the migrants were absent in López Obrador’s campaign proposals, and he only promised to transform embassies and consulates into “migrant advocates offices.” He has not yet fulfilled that promise, but has bowed to the decisions of the American president.
In June 2019, López Obrador abandoned his initial immigration policy, which offered work visas and free movement of Central American immigrants, after Trump threatened to gradually increase tariffs on all Mexican exports up to 25 percent if immigrants were not detained. López Obrador deployed 6,000 members of the National Guard to the southern border to stop the advance of the Central Americans, who were arrested and expelled from the country.
The Mexican government reported in a statement that López Obrador’s “official work visit” with Trump aims to validate the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, USMCA, and address issues on the bilateral and trilateral agenda.
USMCA is the update of the Free Trade Agreement that Mexico signed in 1994 under the President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. López Obrador opposed the signing of the treaty, describing it as harmful to the interests of Mexico. Upon assuming the presidency, he worked hard for the treaty to continue, since President Trump threatened to end it. “(A)n important economic relationship has been consolidated and it is not rational to throw it overboard,” he argued.
One of the conditions of the agreement is that the three countries adapt their internal laws to the treaty. The Mexican Congress has been working to approve these reforms, but two of them have caused acute discomfort: the use of the Internet and the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture.
Representatives of Morena, the ruling party, presented to the Mexican Congress a proposal to reform the Federal Plant Variety Law. The reform would prohibit the exchange of seeds between farmers, promoting the use of patented varieties, which would allow the dominance of agricultural companies and open the door to the use of transgenic plants. Mexico does not allow the use of genetically modified seeds to protect its crops, especially corn.
“We are talking about policies that will impact us in the long term,” said Romero. “The use of genetically modified organisms will affect farmers.”
On the subject of the Internet, the Mexican Senate recently approved modifications to the Federal Copyright Law, which includes a section that allows that if a person alleges that content published on the Internet violates their copyright, the Internet provider must remove it. Some internet users consider sharing of materials a violation of free expression.
Given this policy, the FIOB considers that the Mexican president “has been lost on the road” and demands him to “immediately cancel his state visit to the United States and publicly declare his rejection of racist policies that threaten human rights of Mexican immigrants in the United States.”
The organization’s statement continues: “The Mexican government must change its course and stop being the gringo immigration police on the border between Mexico and Central America. And the president must propose a multilateral dialogue to make a 180 degree change and move from a punitive immigration policy to a humanitarian aid policy for all immigrants both in the United States and in Mexican territory.”
Ambassador Emeritus Bernado Sepúlveda in a letter to the Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard points out that “pretending to tip the balance in favor of President Trump in this political climate does not seem to be the best bet. If Biden wins the Presidency, his antagonism towards Mexico will be evident in the bilateral policies he adopts,” he said.
The FIOB said that it did not receive a response from the Mexican president. Neither the Secretary of Foreign Relations nor the Mexican Consulate in San José responded to calls from this reporter. The White House announced that the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, apparently will not attend.
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