Mexican President AMLO Had A Mixed Reception At The White House


AP Photo/Alex Brandon

By Araceli Cruz

July 8, 2020

In his second visit to the White House, the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador discussed trade and immigration with Trump. Latinos welcomed him with cheers and protests. 

Mexicans, and Mexican Americans, from all over the country came to Washington D.C. to greet and protest Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador aka AMLO. What López Obrador got was a mixed bag of views from Latinos. While some danced to mariachi music, others protested López Obrador by calling him “corrupt” and a “communist.”

Related: Mexico City COVID Death Count Could Be Much Higher

Wednesday’s visit to the White House marks the second time López Obrador has met with President Donald Trump. The two leaders planned to discuss trade, the economy, and immigration. The visit is also to honor the “July 1 enactment of a revised North American Free Trade Agreement ratified by the United States, Canada, and Mexico,” the New York Times reports. But the real showdown was outside on the streets of D.C. 

Hundreds of protestors and welcomers in masks, waving the Mexican flag, gathered to unite in their pride for Mexico and also to object the leadership of López Obrador. Many Latinos cite the decline of the economy in Mexico, the increase in violence, and the surge of coronavirus cases. Mexico currently has almost 300,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 32,000 deaths — however, the actual number is higher because it isn’t providing extensive testing. Some protesters had signs that said, “Not Another Cuba or a Marxist Neighbor” and “Are we ready for a communist neighbor?” 

RELATED: I Could Self-Isolate in Mexico City. Not Everyone Can.

Yet still, López Obrador’s visit attracted Mexicans far and wide. One Mexican woman, who said she can’t visit family because she is undocumented, came from Utah to get a glimpse of the president, and another came from Indianapolis

The visit, coming just four months before U.S. elections, has many Mexicans cringing. Trump has insulted them, threatened crippling tariffs to strongarm Mexico into playing an uncomfortable role in U.S. immigration policy, and insisted they will pay for a border wall meant to keep migrants out of the U.S.

But López Obrador has had a surprisingly warm relationship with Trump. He likes to point out that more recently, Trump helped Mexico reach a deal with other oil-producing nations to cut production and aided Mexico in obtaining more ventilators to face the coronavirus pandemic. Both presidents talk about a blossoming friendship that seems to stem from their pursuit of unapologetically nationalist agendas.

“This helps us by being neighbors,” López Obrador said on Tuesday, before departing on his commercial flight. “This is about the economy. It’s about jobs. It’s about well-being.”

There is no doubt Trump will try to use the visit to his advantage. The encounter will draw attention to a trade accord replacing one Trump said was a bad deal and will allow the president to bash former Vice President Joe Biden for voting in favor of the old North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump could stir his base with sharp words for Mexico or simply play up López Obrador’s desire to express his gratitude.

“Maybe he’s making the right bet, and we don’t know it,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. She expects Trump to use the visit to rally his base, perhaps even reviving the claim that Mexico will pay for the border wall, a topic López Obrador repeatedly dodged Tuesday. “He’s conscious of what can happen,” she said. “It happened to Peña Nieto. It can easily happen to him.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




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