By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
In his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, June 9 — one day after his much-anticipated meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris — Mexican President Andrés Manel López Obrador (AMLO) bragged about how he and Harris had “forgone protocol” and had a friendly meeting.
In this case, AMLO was half right: While Harris complied with the diplomatic formalities of cordiality and political norms of internationally accepted courtesies, López Obrador essential threw all semblances of official protocol out the window.
The long list of AMLO’s diplomatic faux pas with the U.S. official began from the very instant Harris arrived at the National Palace.
In the midst of a global covid-19 pandemic, Harris had the consideration and courtesy to wear a mask, even though she is fully vaccinated against the virus.
AMLO has had one shot of the vaccine (i.e., he is NOT fully vaccinated) and yet he did not wear a mask.
And as if that were not enough, AMLO then proceeded to address the U.S. VP as “presidente” (in the masculine form of the Spanish word for “president”), thus promoting her in rank and ignoring her gender.
And it only got worse as the encounter proceeded.
Not only did AMLO not extend Harris the diplomatic courtesy of welcoming her to Mexico — which is expected in the case of any official visit — but he next addressed her by her first name (without asking permission to do so), or at least what he interpreted to be her first name, tactlessly changing “Kamala” to “Kabala.”
Crass as ever, the Mexican president also ignored Harris’ attempts to have a brief chat as they walked through the National Palace’s corridors, instead using his forefinger to point out the artwork on the walls, at times, even crossing in front of her with his arms to do so.
Is it any wonder that Harris intentionally chose to visit Guatemala before Mexico (a clear diplomatic message to AMLO as to U.S. priorities in the region) or that Biden sent his VP instead of coming to Mexico in person?
Unfortunately, since AMLO is a total neophyte to the world of diplomacy, that message most probably did not resound with him.