By KELIN DILLON
After an unexpected friendship blossomed between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and former U.S. President Donald Trump during the leaders’ administrative overlap as a bond over baseball brought the ideologically opposed self-professed socialist and staunch Republican conservative together, Trump’s post-administration speaking engagements have brought fresh commentary on his perspective of the relationship between the two countries to light in a characteristically crude manner – an opinion AMLO himself chalked up to simple politics.
At a rally in Ohio over the weekend of April 22, Trump recounted a June 2019 meeting with AMLO’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard to discuss the Stay-in-Mexico program, which resulted in the Mexican government deploying 25,000 troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’ve never seen anybody bend over like that,” said Trump at the time. “(Ebrard) came into my office and laughed at me when I told him: We need 28,000 Mexican soldiers on the border, for free. He looked at me and said something like: ‘Deploy soldiers for free? Why? Why would we do that in Mexico?’ I told him: we need something called ‘Stay in Mexico.'”
Trump then claimed he threatened to impose a 25-percent tariff on Mexican imports to the United States if the Mexican government did not comply, causing Ebrard to “bend” to his will.
“After that, he looked at me and said: ‘Sir: it would be an honor to have 28,000 soldiers on the border! It would be an honor to have Stay in Damn Mexico! We want to have Stay in Mexico!”
While there are no publicly available transcripts of Ebrard and Mexico’s talk, Mexico’s Secretary of Defense (Sedena) deployed 25,000 troops one week after the meeting, sending 10,500 to Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and another 15,000 to the northern U.S.- Mexico border.
“The president of Mexico is a very good guy that I like a lot,” Trump went on to add. “He is a socialist, but I like him. He is one of the socialists that I like.”
For his part, López Obrador took to his daily morning press conference on Monday, April 25 to respond to the former U.S. president’s claims – indirectly, that is.
“That’s just how he is, and you have to see the circumstances. I am not going to argue about that,” said AMLO, brushing off any perceived disrespect and quickly pivoting from the topic to self-promote his new book.
Ebrard took a slightly stronger stance, taking to his Twitter account to denounce Trump’s “anti-Mexicanism” and doing exactly what he does best: defending López Obrador at his own expense.