The relationship between Mexico and the United States has reached a stagnation point after the turbulence of recent weeks. The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the wave of decrees that Joe Biden has issued as soon as he took office to bury the legacy of Donald Trump in the White House, especially on immigration. The Mexican president has celebrated the plan to give citizenship to 11 million immigrants and to stop the construction of the border wall. “We see it very well, we have nothing to object to,” López Obrador said in his morning conference this Thursday and took the opportunity to send a conciliatory message after the diplomatic conflict over the case of General Salvador Cienfuegos: “There is no threat against Mexico. Those who are betting that we are going to confront the United States Government will be left with the desire ”.
López Obrador has maintained his desire to differentiate himself from what his predecessors had done against the United States. His stamp was reflected in the management of the Cienfuegos case, by getting Enrique Peña Nieto’s Secretary of Defense (2012-2018) repatriated in November and dismantling in a matter of months an investigation that was forged for years by the DEA on the other side of the border. The president has now argued that “it is not necessary” to have a call with Biden and that he had already touched on “all the issues” in other contacts. “We had a very good conversation,” he said, “communication has already been established between the public servants of the United States and Mexico, they are already working together.”
The president had already said hours before Biden’s inauguration that it was important to return to the bilateral agenda the promise of immigration reform, an issue that Mexico has pursued for more than two decades and that is a priority for the more than 38 million of people of Mexican origin living in the United States. His US counterpart winked again in this regard, announcing that protection for the dreamers, as the initiative promoted by Barack Obama to open a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who migrated when they were minors and that Trump buried is known.
Raúl Benítez Manaut, specialist in bilateral relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, foresees that the Cienfuegos affair, that has gained attention in recent weeks, will come out of the spotlight and give ground to the immigration issue. “Everything that López Obrador has said about the United States in recent days no longer counts after Biden’s arrival,” says the researcher.
The southern border of Mexico celebrates the arrival of Biden.
Not everything will be honey on flakes. Although Obama had a much kinder speech than Trump towards migrants, his Administration broke the record for deportations on the southern border of the country, returning 2.5 million undocumented persons between 2009 and 2015. For Benítez, how Mexico manages phenomena will be key like the caravans, which have re-emerged in recent days and which keep latent the possibility of new flows of people fleeing the devastation left by hurricanes Iota and Eta, the poverty and violence that hit Central America. “The migratory flow will not stop building walls,” López Obrador said this week, warning that the issue will have a different narrative in the next four years with Biden, almost at the same time that a military deployment was maintained on the Suchiate river border in anticipation the arrival of the last migrant caravan.
The measures against the coronavirus pandemic and for the economic reactivation were also applauded by López Obrador, especially for the impact they can have on the population of Mexican origin. The president, however, opted for caution, insisting that he did not want to interfere in his neighbor’s internal politics and sending the message that he expected a reciprocal position, a claim that intensified during the Cienfuegos scandal.
After dealing with and giving in to Trump’s diplomatic attacks for four years, Mexico’s diplomatic efforts are focused on building the foundations of a new relationship with his successor and distancing itself from the idea that it opted for the Republican’s re-election, a criticism that the López Obrador government has sought to deny. The strategy is underpinned by the appointment of Esteban Moctezuma as the new ambassador to Washington, although analysts predict that Biden will focus the first months of his administration on unifying the country, worn out by four years of political polarization and a tumultuous transition. “We have a very good relationship with the new government,” insisted the Mexican president.