Lopez Obrador’s comments arrived a day after the two men first met at the White House, where the Mexican president praised Trump for showing “kindness and respect” to his country. This drew responses from critics in Mexico.
Lopez Obrador told Telemundo television that Trump, a Republican, has had a certain “vision” of Mexicans in the past. But it was different now, he said.
“He completely changed his rhetoric,” said Lopez Obrador. “Relations with President Trump are very good and, as I said yesterday, he treated us like friends, not distant neighbors.”
Trump described Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug traffickers during his previous presidential campaign and promised to make Mexico pay for its border wall project to reduce illegal immigration and the flow of illicit drugs. The Mexican government has always refused to do so.
Lopez Obrador took office in late 2018, seeking to distance himself from his predecessors.
But in a matter of months, Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican products if Lopez Obrador does not curb illegal immigration to the United States.
Lopez Obrador’s friendly remarks about Trump have troubled some American Democrats, who fear Trump will want to exploit the meeting with his Mexican counterpart to seduce Mexican voters before the presidential election on November 3.
Immediately after the meeting, a Twitter account describing itself as the “official bilingual account” of the Trump campaign began to use images of Lopez Obrador praising the American president, in order to present him as a friend of the Hispanic community.
Many critics of Trump in Mexico doubt he will remain friendly until the election.
A June 26-27 telephone survey by El Financiero newspaper found that 70% of Mexicans viewed Trump in a negative light, although 59% agreed with Lopez Obrador’s plan to visit him in Washington.
Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Dave Graham and Peter Cooney
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