The relationship between the United States and Mexico “is based on friendship and it is also an indispensable commercial and economic relationship, that is why the trip to the United States,” López Obrador said late last month when he announced the visit.
The meeting is part of the “Ongoing Partnership of the Two Leaders on Trade, Health and Other Issues Central to Regional Prosperity and Security” and will recognize the USMCA and “their shared effort to ensure that North America continues to strengthen its economic ties as it works to combat the coronavirus pandemic, “the White House press secretary said in a statement.
But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office announced that he will not attend the meeting, raising concerns among Democrats that he will meet Trump’s political goals four months before the election.
“What is the urgency to come now? Why is Prime Minister Trudeau not participating in this meeting? And why didn’t the meeting take place earlier? [USMCA] Did it take effect? ”Representative Chuy Garcia, who represents one of Chicago’s largest Mexican immigrant communities and is a Mexican immigrant, told POLITICO.
“It is disconcerting for Mexican leaders in Mexico and here to think that in some way this trip would be advantageous for Mexico or AMLO due to the means that Trump has to exploit the visit and manipulate it to extract the votes of Mexican Americans and Latinos through this visit”. It is what many people find repulsive, ”added Garcia.
Last week, more than a dozen members of the Hispanic Caucus of Congress urged Trump to cancel the meeting, calling it “nothing more than an attempt to distract himself from the coronavirus crisis and his failure to lead an adequate response to the pandemic.” .
Still, US business leaders hope López Obrador will use the trip to demonstrate that Mexico wants US investment and will offer a better environment for it. The Mexican leader has alarmed investors around the world with his moves to abruptly cancel major projects, such as a partially built airport and brewery, where billions of dollars have already been spent.
“After 18 months of unequal decision-making by the Mexican government that has shaken investor confidence, the visit marks a critical opportunity for AMLO to guarantee to US stakeholders.” Said Neil Herrington, vice president senior of the United States Chamber of Commerce for the Americas.
The Oval Office meeting poses a risk to both leaders, neither of whom has agreed to wear face masks and who have recently resumed travel through their respective countries for events. The Mexican leader also comes on a stopover commercial flight to Washington, posing more health problems.
Coronavirus cases in the US are still on the rise, as the nation has seen more than 130,000 deaths and 3 million confirmed infections. Mexico is also in a bad state, as it is the country with the fifth highest number of deaths, more than 31,000, due to the coronavirus and more than 250,000 confirmed cases, figures that are believed to be unreported.
Their willingness to meet in the midst of a pandemic is a reminder of their similarities, even if they identify with different sides of the political spectrum.
Both leaders maintain a contentious relationship with the media. López Obrador has criticized mainstream media such as the Mexican newspaper Reforma for what he says is an unfair or false report similar to Trump.
López Obrador has often repeated his philosophy that “the best foreign policy is internal policy”, while trying to avoid getting involved on the world stage. That has made it even more surprising that his first trip abroad is to the United States. But López Obrador’s nationalist attitude and focus on internal affairs are not unknown in the United States, as Trump has also lobbied for an America First agenda throughout his presidency.
“I think they really love each other as president because neither cares about the other,” said Jorge Guajardo, former Mexican ambassador to China and senior director of McLarty Associates. “Trump does not want to get involved in Mexico and López Obrador does not want to get involved with the United States. The less they have to talk about each other, the better. “