20 December 2020

Mexico’s president discusses migration in phone call with Joe Biden

20 December 2020

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he spoke with US president-elect Joe Biden by phone, five days after he sent a tardy and somewhat chilly letter of congratulations to Mr Biden.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to work together for the good of our peoples and our countries,” Mr Lopez Obrador wrote in his social media accounts.

Mr Biden’s transition team said the two discussed migration, apparently with a focus on a theme that Mr Lopez Obrador has championed: developing jobs and opportunities so that people will not have to migrate.

“The president-elect emphasised the need to reinvigorate US-Mexico cooperation to ensure safe and orderly migration, contain Covid-19, revitalise the economies of North America, and secure our common border,” said a statement posted on Mr Biden’s transition website.

“The two leaders noted a shared desire to address the root causes of migration in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and southern Mexico and to build a future of greater opportunity and security for the region,” the statement continued.

“They discussed working together on a new approach to regional migration that offers alternatives to undertaking the dangerous journey to the United States.”

Newly erected border wall separating Mexico, left, and the United States, cuts through through the Sonoran Desert just west of the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge (Matt York/PA) (AP)

Mr Biden also pledged “to build the regional and border infrastructure and capacity needed to facilitate a new orderly and humane approach to migration that will respect international norms regarding the treatment of asylum claims”.

At present, thousands of Central Americans and others have had to wait in often squalid camps in northern Mexico while awaiting court dates on their US asylum claims, under the “remain in Mexico” policy implemented by President Donald Trump.

Mr Lopez Obrador and Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, finally congratulated Mr Biden only after the Electoral College vote confirmed his victory.

The two were the last major Latin American leaders to send congratulations.

Both Mr Lopez Obrador and Mr Bolsonaro were seen as friendly to Mr Trump.

The Mexican president has stressed that maintaining good relations with the United States, Mexico’s northern neighbour and by far its top trading partner, is one of his top priorities.

Mr Lopez Obrador said he intentionally waited until the Electoral College vote before writing to Mr Biden.

The brief letter contained an implicit warning against getting involved in Mexico’s internal affairs.

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