By RICARDO CASTILLO
There was really very little to discuss on Sunday, July 21, during the just-over-an-hour-long meeting in Mexico City between visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
It was clear previous to the meet that Mexico had achieved the goals demanded of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)by U.S. President Donald Trump to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants from Central America. In fact, last week Trump tweeted that he was deeply satisfied with the results.
In less time than the imposed 45-day limit, which concludes today, July 22, AMLO managed to stop the by-then-almost-uncontrollable flow of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, notwithstanding throngs of Cubans, Haitians, you name it.
AMLO played his trump card, which was the deployment of 21,000 members of the recently conceived National Guard (GN) on both the southern and northern borders to stop the flow of people seeking asylum in the United States.
“We did not expect this much (success),” Trump tweeted.
Needless to say, in Mexico the outcry of people condemning AMLO’s deployment of the National Guard is deafening. The GN, claim throngs of critics, was conceived and sold to voters as a means of bringing under control the myriad of organized crime gangs operating in many parts of the nations, not to be “the gringo migra.”
In the midst of all this, Mexican Chamber of Deputies President Porfirio Muñoz Ledo foresaw that we should expect some sidetracking of duties of the GN because “it is our protector.” The GN is, like the Virgin of Guadalupe, here to protect the nation, only with a gun in hand,” he said.
Among the observations Ebrard made to Pompeo was the fact that the Mexican government is not ready to sign a deal compromising resources to become a third safe nations for migrants seeking asylum in the United States. For the meantime, Pompeo accepted this posture.
But this is a case in which the critics may be right. Several claim that Ebrard is trying to save diplomatic face with his overtures of objection since Mexico is already a de facto third safe nation for the United States. The proof of the pudding is that, in the past month, it was reported Friday, 11,992 migrants seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to Mexico at several crossing cities to wait for a decision from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities. Mexico has to deal with them, both in person and financially, since most of these returnees has any means of income.
(A side observation: At the Mexican border the maquiladora, or in-bond plants, have thousands of openings and those who are willing to work, have a job.)
But the threat of Trump imposing up to 25 percent in import duties to all Mexican exports has been prevented and it is highly unlikely that on a last-minute basis. he will push back harder to look good to his voters during his reelection campaign.
Pompeo arrived Saturday night and left immediately after his meeting with Ebrard on Sunday for El Salvador.
There was a minor and brief incident as his entourage left the Foreign Relations Secretariat building on the back exit on Independencia Street in downtown Mexico City. A group of four people led by lawyer José Luis González Meza – allegedly Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s defense counselor in Mexico – stopped the Suburban van Pompeo was in demanding that El Chapo’s fortune be returned to Mexico. The driver of the van, a woman, pushed ahead and bumped González without running him over. He stepped aside and the entourage moved on to take Pompeo to the airport, from which he flew to El Salvador for an appointment with that country’s new president Nayib Bukele.
Pompeo, on this visit to Mexico, did not meet with AMLO.
Congressmen Return Satisfied with Visit
The one-day visit on Friday, July 19, of a group of mostly U.S. Democratic congressmen to Mexico was touted as a “success” by tour organizer Under-secretary for North America of the Foreign Relations Secretariat Jesús Seade Kuri, who is also the administration’s leading free-trade negotiator with the United States and Canada.
The congressmen met with AMLO during the morning at the National Palace, and in the afternoon met with the Economy, Labor and Environment secretaries to check that Mexico was complying with the requisites already stipulated in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The fact that the group was made up mostly of Democrats was significant since they will be going back to Congress hopefully (for Mexico) to speed up the signing of the agreement and get it out of the way. The USMCA still needs ratification in the United States, but it has already been ratified by Mexico.
The delegation was led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of the Ways and Means Committee, and formed by representatives Ron Kind, Terri Sewell, Judy Chu, Stephanie Murphy, Jimmy Gómez, Rosa Del Auro, Filemón Vela and George Holding.
The day ended with a gala dinner at the Foreign Relations Secretariat headed by Ebrard and with the attendance of the cabinet members who met with the congressmen.