The US-Mexican relationship is “based on friendship and it is also a vital business and economic relationship, which is why traveling to the United States,” said López Obrador at the end of last month during the announcement of his visit.
The meeting is part of the “continuing partnership of the two leaders on trade, health and other issues essential to regional prosperity and security” and will recognize the USMCA and “their joint efforts to ensure that North America continues to strengthen economic ties while fighting the coronavirus pandemic, “said White House press secretary in a statement.
But the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would not attend the meeting, raising concerns among Democrats that he would serve Trump’s political goals four months before the election.
“How urgent is it to come now?” Why is Prime Minister Trudeau not attending this meeting? And why didn’t the meeting take place before [USMCA] Has taken effect? Representative Chuy García, who represents one of Chicago’s largest communities of Mexican immigrants and is a Mexican immigrant, told POLITICO.
“It is confusing for Mexican leaders in Mexico and here to think that this trip would be somehow beneficial to Mexico or AMLO because of the means Trump has to exploit the visit and manipulate it to extract Mexican American and Latino votes thanks to this visit. This is what many people find repugnant, ”added García.
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 from the coronavirus crisis and your inability to conduct a adequate response to the pandemic ”.
However, American business leaders hope that López Obrador will take advantage of this trip to show that Mexico wants American investments and will provide it with a better environment. The Mexican leader has alarmed investors around the world by deciding 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 uneven Mexican government decisions that have shaken investor confidence, the visit represents a critical opportunity for AMLO to assure American stakeholders that Mexico is committed to meeting its USMCA obligations and ensuring an investment environment predictable healthy in the future, ”said Neil Herrington, executive vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce for the Americas.
The oval office chair poses a risk to the two leaders, who have neither embraced wearing face masks and who have recently resumed travel to their respective countries for events. The Mexican leader also arrives on a commercial flight with a stopover in Washington, which raises other health problems.
In the United States, cases of coronavirus continue to increase, the nation having recorded more than 130,000 deaths and 3 million confirmed infections. Mexico is also in bad shape as a country with the fifth highest number of deaths – more than 31,000 – due to the coronavirus and more than 250,000 confirmed cases, figures largely underreported.
Their willingness to meet in the midst of a pandemic is a reminder of their similarities, even if they identify with different facets of the political spectrum.
The two leaders have a contentious relationship with the media. López Obrador has rebelled against major media such as the Mexican newspaper Reforma for what he says is an unfair or false report in the same way as Trump.
López Obrador has often repeated his philosophy that “the best foreign policy is domestic policy”, while trying to avoid getting involved on the world stage. This makes it all the more surprising that his first trip abroad is to the United States. But López Obrador’s nationalist attitude and focus on domestic issues is not unknown in the United States, as Trump, too, pushed for an America First program during his presidency.
“I think they really want to be president because neither cares about the other,” said Jorge Guajardo, former Mexican ambassador to China and senior director at 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. “