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López Obrador to Biden: “You are the first president of the United States who has not built a meter of the wall and I thank you”

The North American Leaders Summit closed Tuesday in Mexico City with praise, veiled claims and promises. Joe Biden, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Justin Trudeau concluded a grueling diplomatic day with a declaration of intent: to turn North America into a commercial and political bloc with its own weight and that can compete in the current geopolitical scenario. On the ground, beyond the agreements signed on paper and that have been made known little by little, the presidents of the United States and Mexico and the prime minister of Canada took advantage of the so-called “summit of the Three Amigos to stand up to the criticism they face in their countries, strengthen their image as heads of government and promote their agendas in the regional forum. “You are the first president of the United States who has not built a single meter of the wall and I thank you,” López Obrador told his US counterpart. Biden, for his part, defended his border management plan and double ruled out that it was a “too soft” or “strong-handed” program. Trudeau declared that his country is ready for global challenges and that he will endorse his alliance with Washington.

Biden brought a broad work agenda on his first visit to Mexico in almost two years in office. The US president wanted to talk about the fentanyl trade, the latest chapter in the war on drugs, in the land where the cartels have established themselves as the main source of the opioid that kills tens of thousands of people each year by overdose. He sought to give legitimacy to a new immigration plan announced last week, with which he plans to receive 30,000 immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela each month in exchange for the Mexican government taking care of all those who do not meet the requirements. . “I want to thank you, Mr. President, for taking a step forward and receiving in Mexico those who do not follow the legal paths that we have established, instead of trying to cross the border between our countries,” the man in charge of the police told López Obrador. White House.

In addition, the US president declared that it was time to oil regional supply chains and insisted time and time again on the need to invest in semiconductors, a trade area dominated by China and Taiwan. He was responding to questions about the discovery of secret documents dating back to his time as vice president. “I was surprised to learn that there are government records that were brought to that office, but I don’t know what is in the documents,” Biden said.

After concluding the three-party work meetings, López Obrador did not give weight to the burden of safeguarding the border or the impact of the war against drug trafficking in the Latin American country, in a fight that has lasted for more than 15 years and that It has left hundreds of thousands dead. The last 29 were the high cost of capturing Ovidio Guzmán, the son of El Chapo, four days after Biden’s arrival.

On the other hand, the Mexican president celebrated the existence of a different spirit to face the humanitarian drama on the border and the promise to invest billions of dollars in development cooperation to attack the root causes of the exodus in Central America. He scored a point with his supporters by getting Biden and Trudeau to land at Felipe Ángeles International Airport, a symbol of his mandate that it is not certified to fly commercially to the United States. And he asked Biden to advocate before Congress for the regularization of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, an immigration agreement that no Mexican president has managed to secure. He accepted the challenge of speaking about migration, but on his terms, like the other presidents.

Trudeau applauded North America’s drive to become more competitive and meet global challenges. “There is much more that can be done,” he told the media at the closing ceremony. The Canadian prime minister appreciated the praise from his host for seeking to expand work visas for Mexican immigrants. But he focused more on building a common front with Washington to deal with Russia’s “brutal war” against Ukraine and the never-ending crisis in Haiti. During the meeting, a brief mention was also made of the democratic assault in Brazil. The Canadian leader delivered a limited speech in French and English and stressed that his relationship with Biden is unbeatable, compared to the “uncertainty” that reigned during the Donald Trump Administration.

The joint declaration dealt with the six thematic axes that were initially raised, but avoided putting a number on the economic agreements or detailing specific plans against regional threats. It focused on broadly shared diagnoses of diversity, equity, and inclusion; climate change and environment; competitiveness; migration and development; Health and security. “The leaders are determined to strengthen the security, prosperity, sustainability and integration of our region,” the official document reads.

The closing ceremony of the trilateral summit gave space for only one question from a reporter from each country. The chosen journalists tried to get the three leaders to answer their questions, but the protocol prevented it. Even so, López Obrador stood for more than 20 minutes in front of the microphone to review his political project, in an intervention that ranged from his social programs and his promise to eradicate corruption to the damage to the health of vapers and his vision of how young people should seek happiness without having to take drugs.

Biden and Trudeau waited patiently, staring into space, nodded when addressed, and briefly bowed their heads after standing throughout the speech, visibly exhausted by the avalanche of official events. it was a conference morning like the ones the Mexican president gives every day. For moments, there was laughter and stupefied faces among the reporters who attended the coverage and the delegations of the three governments. In another section, the photographers, more irreverent, blew whistles that slipped into the broadcast of the act to demand that the speech end once and for all. “You give very long answers, right?” A foreign journalist asked her local colleagues ironically. “I’m past time and it’s very cold, thank you very much with all my heart,” López Obrador said with a smile before posing once again with his guests.

Biden apologized to reporters for not answering their questions and went directly to the airport, two hours behind his original itinerary. The convoy, with around thirty escort vehicles, made its way through downtown Mexico City to take it to board the Air Force One, it had made landfall in Mexico for the first time in nearly a decade. López Obrador and Trudeau have scheduled a bilateral meeting for this Wednesday.

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