Migration, fighting the pandemic and cooperation for development. Those have been the central themes of the phone call that Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador made this Friday, the first since the Democrat took office in the White House last Wednesday. The presidents of the United States and Mexico have left the diplomatic turmoil of recent weeks for now and have adopted a cordial tone to lay the new foundations for the bilateral relationship. “We spoke with President Biden, he was kind and respectful,” López Obrador said on his social networks.
“Everything indicates that relations will be good for the good of our peoples and nation,” added the Mexican president, who answered the call after a visit to the northern state of Nuevo León, accompanied by the chancellor, Marcelo Ebrard, a translator and Alfonso Romo , who in December left his post as head of the Presidential Office. López Obrador has taken the opportunity to congratulate Biden once again on his coming to power and affirm that there is “will” to work together, according to a statement from the Government of Mexico. The United States also gave its approval for Esteban Moctezuma, former Secretary of Education, to take over as the new Mexican ambassador in Washington, an appointment that has yet to go through the Senate.
López Obrador was the second world leader to receive a phone call from the White House. First on Biden’s call list was Trudeau. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the priority was to speak with “partners and allies.” “[El presidente] believes that it is important to rebuild these relationships to address the challenges and threats we are facing in the world, ”said the spokeswoman. Biden’s decision to get closer to his neighbors, his main trading partners after China, sends a new message to distance himself from the foreign policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had several frictions with his North American allies.
Words such as “cordial” and “mutual respect” occupy a central place in the statement from the Mexican government on the call this Friday afternoon. After several weeks of tensions over the case of General Salvador Cienfuegos, arrested in October in California and exonerated in Mexico in the middle of the month, López Obrador has opted in recent days for a more conciliatory tone and supported Biden’s efforts to dismantle various policies. Trump immigration. An avalanche of decrees from the Democrat ordered that the path be resumed to give citizenship to the dreamers —As the undocumented youth who migrated since they were children are known — and the construction of the border wall, a badge of the administration of its predecessor, was stopped. Biden has also opened the door to an immigration reform to regularize the situation of 11 million undocumented immigrants that Mexico has persecuted for more than two decades.
There was no mention, at least in the communiqués of the Mexican government, about security and fighting organized crime, much less the claims to the DEA for the Cienfuegos case. López Obrador seems to accept Biden’s proposal to put the focus of the bilateral relationship on immigration, at least during the first days of the transition in Washington.
The Mexican president had said just a day before the call that it was not “necessary” to speak by phone with Biden, arguing that they were working on a common agenda, which had already been discussed in another call on December 19. “The president-elect emphasized the need to revitalize cooperation between the United States and Mexico to ensure orderly and safe migration,” said Biden’s transition team.
In the last call, the issue of addressing the “root causes” of the migratory phenomenon with development cooperation programs in Central America was again touched upon, a policy that Mexico promoted when López Obrador came to power at the end of 2018, but lost strength in the last tranche of the Trump Administration. Since December, Biden had raised the need to order and strengthen the management of the shared border and find a solution for asylum seekers stranded in Mexico.
The pandemic has also opened a front of understanding between both governments. There was talk of collaborating in the fight against covid-19 and discussing the new requirements that the United States imposed on international travelers, such as a negative covid test and a preventive quarantine. There were no further details on the collaboration in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We are entering a new era,” Trudeau told reporters before his call, “much more aligned on values, priorities and the work that needs to be done.” Canadian officials told CTV television that the call with Trudeau lasted more than 30 minutes, “longer than any they have had with Trump.” The same sources speak of a virtual or face-to-face meeting next month between Biden and his Canadian counterpart. There have been no signs, however, of a similar encounter with López Obrador, at least in official statements.
To the bulky agenda between Mexico and the United States, which includes the fight against drug trafficking and the management of migratory phenomena such as caravans, analysts foresee a greater emphasis of the Biden presidency on issues that had been relegated such as climate change and respect to human rights. The T-MEC, the trade agreement that the three countries renegotiated and which came into force last July, will also occupy a priority place with new rules of the game for trade. It is basically a first affinity survey on the regional scene, after four erratic years of the Trump administration and one of the most complex transitions in the White House in memory.