By RICARDO CASTILLO
Regardless of the fact that the United States still does not have an ambassador in Mexico, diplomatic relations are intensifying to the point that this coming weekend there are two mini-summits planned that will deal with some of the many pressing issues between the two nations.
First, Mexican Foreign Relations Undersecretary for North America Jesús Seade Kuri has announced the arrival on Friday, July 19, of a delegation of U.S. congressmen who will be here to discuss issues such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the implementation of new labor laws, the economy, the environment and more.
Then, on Sunday, July 21, Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón will host a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Undersecretary Seade announced the visiting congressmen will be headed by Earl Blumenauer (D.-Oregon) and will be mostly Democrats, though he added “there will be a few Republicans among the visitors.” Representative Blumenauer is part of the Ways and Means Committee.
The group is slated to meet in the early morning with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), as well as with the secretaries of Foreign Relations, Economy, Labor and the Environment. Several of the visiting congressmen have shown a special interest in environmental issues.
At the center of the discussions will be the recent approval by Mexico of the UMSCA, a move Seade said could mark the beginning of a push in the United States for congressional approval.
“The congressmen will be here to find out about ratification on the part of the Mexican Senate of the USMCA (T-MEC in Mexico),” he said. “They are not coming to ask for changes or no changes will be made. We will not negotiate with them, but rather with (U.S. Trade Representative) Robert Lighthizer and his team.”
Seade said the congressional visit will be “intensive.” Seade will be leading the Mexican counterpart group as chief UMSCA negotiator. The U.S. congressmen have voiced a special interest in Mexico’s recently approved Labor Reform and how it is being implemented. Labor changes in Mexico were demanded by Democrats during the USMCA negotiations.
AMLO said in his daily press conference on Thursday, July 18, that during his rendezvous with the U.S. congressmen he would “let them know that my position is in favor of concluding the approval of the agreement.”
AMLO also revealed that among the visiting congressmen is one who voted against the treaty. The president said that he is hoping this representative (whose name he did not reveal) had changed his stance because “it is not rational to say no to the treaty at this point.”
Regarding the Pompeo-Ebrard mini summit on Sunday, AMLO said it was being held to offer continuity to migration issues, as well as to avoid tariffs on Mexican goods and to prove there’s a good relationship between the two nations.
“There’s communication, relations are good and let’s hope that the United States approves as soon as possible the treaty,” he said. “Of course, that’s an internal affair and we’re highly respectful of the decisions the United States had made because we abide by the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other nations.”
The president added that he will not meet with Pompeo, but stressed: “I know him well. We like each other. We have talked, Both he and (U.S. President Donald) Trump like baseball (which AMLO loves), But (Pompeo and Ebrard) will be dealing with other issues, and I feel that, with Marcelo, I am quite well represented.”
Regarding the lack of a U.S. ambassador in Mexico, the last that was heard from the State Department was the nomination of Christopher Landau by Trump on March 19. That nomination must get U.S. congressional approval before Landau can be named as an envoy here.