Envoy Says Mexico and US Share Responsibility to Protect Migrants

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar. Photo: USAmbMex


U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said Tuesday, Dec. 14, that it is the responsibility of both Mexico and the United States to protest migrants by creating the conditions for economic and social development in Central America.

Speaking during an interview with the Mexican daily newspaper El Universal and just 100 days into his mandate of ambassador, Salazar said that the immigration problems that Mexico and the United States are currently experiencing is no one nation’s fault, but that both governments have to do more so that the migrants do not have to choose to take the “painful corridor” of illegal migration to escape poverty.

Following the tragic Dec. 9 tracker trailer crash, in which 55 Central American undocumented migrants died in Chiapas, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) tried to pass the blame onto the United States, saying that despite his repeated and urgent calls to the U.S. government, the root causes of the current migratory phenomenon have not been addressed.

And on Wednesday, Dec. 15, AMLO repeated his claim that the United States was to blame for the tragedy, calling Washington a “rheumatic elephant that will not budge” on the issue of migration.

“We are doing everything we can at the moment,” Salazar said, “and with the support of President López Obrador and the Mexican government, and the broad shoulders of President Joe Biden and the United States, we can do even more.”

The U.S. envoy also spoke to El Universal about common challenges that both Mexico and the United States must address in coming months, including the threats posed to North America by arms trafficking and China’s commercial and technological expansion.

Regarding AMLO’s proposed electricity reform, Salazar, who served as secretary of the interior under U.S. President Barack Obama, said that he foresees difficulties in the bilateral relationship should the reform pass, since this would effect billions of dollars in U.S. investment in Mexico in clean energy.

“The North American economy has to be unified,” he said, “and this cannot be done if it does not have the necessary energy power to make the economy function.”

Salazar went on to say that the U.S. government has made its concerns about the proposal known to AMLO and that “there is a good chance that the matter will be resolved.”

Asked about the now-defunct Merida Initiative, Salazar said that it had accomplished many good things, such as investment in professional training and better binational cooperation, but now it was time to review the program, which had been in place for more than 10 years.

Salazar said that the new Bicentennial Understanding accord, which replaced the Merida Initiative earlier this year, is based on a more equal relationship that takes into consideration the problems of illegal weapons that enter Mexico and spur violence.

“We are going to work on that issue, jointly, as partners,” he said.

“The problem of human traffickers, of coyotes, is a transnational matter. The powerful organizations linked to drug trafficking is a problem for both Mexico and the United States. How can it be resolved? As partners, and that is why the meeting in which plans of understanding were approved was a historic day.”

Salazar said that he was optimistic that through joint efforts, transnational violence can be curbed in the years ahead.

“It is never going to be completely resolved because there are always going to be problems, but we are going to be successful,” he said. “People cannot continue to live in fear.”

The U.S. ambassador concluded by saying that while Mexico and the United States may hold different views and policies regarding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, Washington respects Mexico’s sovereignty.

“Between Mexico and the United States there will always be some differences, but they are few,” he said.

“What is not limited is all we have in common, and what we are going to work together for. That is the reality that will define the relationship between our two nations.”

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