Mexican president’s plan to meet with Trump draws criticism

Mexican president’s plan to meet with Trump draws criticism

Mexican president’s plan to meet with Trump draws criticism

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday he plans to travel to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump, an announcement that was met with a storm of criticism in Mexico.

López Obrador said he wants to make his first trip abroad in the first week of July to mark the start of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade accord, which was negotiated with the Trump administration.

Trump is deeply unpopular in Mexico because of his remarks about the country. And Mexicans remember former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ill-starred meeting with Trump that many feel strengthened Trump as a candidate in the 2016 election. Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department then issued a statement saying López Obrador’s administration wants to steer clear of the U.S. elections.

The two leaders have displayed surprisingly cordial relations despite ideological differences. Trump said of López Obrador on Tuesday: “He’s really a great guy. I think he’ll be coming into Washington pretty soon.” López Obrador has called Trump a friend and said his administration has shown respect for Mexico

Roberto Velasco Álvarez, the Foreign Relations Department’s director of North American affairs, wrote in his Twitter account that “Mexican diplomacy is based on building bridges with all people.”

“The main objective of the meeting proposed by President López Obrador is promoting our interests, and is not related to internal (U.S.) political processes,” Velasco Alvarez wrote.

The critics were out in force, though.

Mexico’s former ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhán, called the trip “a colossal political, electoral, diplomatic and long-term strategic error.”

“Trump is only interested in using the Mexican president as a theatrical prop for the elections,” wrote Sarukhán. “For broad sectors of U.S. society, visiting Trump now, when the country is experiencing its deepest social and ideological crisis in 50 years … will be interpreted by many here as a show of support for the most polarizing president in modern U.S. history.”

Though he is famous in Mexico for declining international travel, López Obrador said early Wednesday that he wants to go to Washington. He said he hopes Canada will participate in the meeting as well, “but at any rate we will go because it is very important to participate at the launch of an agreement that I consider historic.”

The president has studiously avoided conflict with Mexico’s much larger neighbour, even after Trump threatened to put crippling tariffs on Mexican goods imported into the U.S. unless Mexico did more to stop migrant caravans. Mexico effectively blocked the caravans.

Trump angered many Mexicans when as a candidate in 2016, he said Mexicans crossing the border brought drugs, crime and “tremendous infectious disease” to the U.S.. At the time, critics said Peña Nieto gave him a pulpit when he invited both U.S. candidates to Mexico City in 2016, but only Trump accepted. After taking office, Trump continued to promise to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it.

In a recent piece for the Washington Post, Mexican columnist León Krauze wrote about the 2016 meeting, “Why would López Obrador, who was so critical of Peña Nieto’s decision to prop up Trump during a contentious election, risk international opprobrium and condemnation at home over the exact same mistake?”

Krauze noted López Obrador hasn’t yet discussed meeting with Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden.

“It could simply be another step in the Mexican president’s strange appeasement of the American president, a plan that has led him to embrace controversial immigration measures far from the humanitarian approach he promised as a candidate,” Krauze wrote.

The Associated Press

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

(File photo)
After several years in limbo, Parkland Manor to be torn down

Rimoka Housing Foundation has received funding and approval for the demolition

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

Most Read