AMLO gets backlash for meeting with Trump
Critics of AMLO are condemning him for not criticizing the U.S. enough and visiting Trump ahead of an election season where the Latinx vote could prove decisive.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been in office for 19 months, but his trip to Washington D.C. will be his first foreign visit as head of state.
He has said at his morning press conferences that these meetings between July 8 and 9 will celebrate the USMCA, a new trade deal replacing NAFTA, which went into effect last week.
The trade agreement involves the three largest economies in North America, but Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, will not be attending because of virtual cabinet meetings and a session in parliament he needed to be present for.
This comes at a time of crisis in both countries as they fight the spread of COVID-19 within their own borders. The U.S. has the most confirmed cases and deaths in the world, while Mexico is the fourth-worst affected nation in the Americas at this time, behind Brazil and Peru.
The Mexican people have signaled that AMLO’s rhetoric towards Donald Trump and the U.S. government has changed since he was sworn into office.
“The Mexican government should present a lawsuit before the United Nations against the United States government for violating human rights and for racial discrimination,” AMLO said while campiging for president in 2018 in regards to the treament of Mexican migrants in the U.S.
Days before departing for Washington, the populist leader spoke on what he could talk about with Trump.
“When president Trump was young like me he played baseball, he was a pitcher who threw up to 80-85 miles. Only that in that time I batted with pitchers that threw more than 100 miles, it’s not to brag. So we can talk about baseball, about many things,” López Obrador said jokingly.
The tone sparked discontent with the Mexican president from the public as they see his friendly demeanor towards Trump unfitting for how he has threatened Mexico with tariffs and demonized Mexican immigrants in the United States.
Trump is trailing Biden across multiple polls, but many imagine that a visit from AMLO may not only help the Republican incumbent, but also hurt Biden where he appears weak.
According to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll from June 26, only 59% percent of Latinx people would vote for Biden over Trump. That is 7 points down from the 66% Latinx support that Hillary Clinton received in 2016.
“If López Obrador truly does not want Trump to use him as an electoral campaign poster, the smartest thing is to postpone the visit until after the elections on Nov. 3. The other risk is betrayal and indifference toward the 12 million Mexicans, born in Mexico, who like me live in the United States. López Obrador is making exactly the same mistake as former president Enrique Peña Nieto, who met with Trump in Mexico City before an election.” wrote Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, a vocal critic of both López Obrador and Trump.
Trump has never visited AMLO, but he did meet with the previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto, in September 2016 to publicly discuss trade and immigration before he was elected president.
Many Mexicans criticized the move then, as they believed Peña Nieto legitimized Trump prior to him having power.
On Wednesday morning, AMLO set out to lay wreaths at the memorials of Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juárez in Washington D.C. He was not wearing a mask when walking around the U.S. Capitol. Dozens of Mexicans fans were gathered around Lafayette Square and Black Lives Matter Plaza waiting for his arrival.
Telemundo reported that the Mexican president will not meet with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or people from migrant communities.
Ahead of his meeting with the Mexican leader, Donald Trump spent time in Yuma, Arizona championing the completion of another segment of his border wall. Only 229 miles of his 450 mile target for his first term has been completed in almost four years.
The two North American leaders were scheduled to have a private meeting at 2 p.m.
Then the two men will have dinner at 6 p.m. in the presence of their advisors and 10 Mexican businessmen that accompanied López Obrador.
One of them is Carlos Slim, the richest person in Latin America and a critic of Trump in terms of his willingness to drift the U.S. into isolationism through backing out of international agreements and organizations.