On Friday, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, criticized U.S. aid to Ukraine and its economic sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries. This happened as the first of two major U.S.-Mexico meetings began in Washington.
López Obrador voiced his concerns about U.S. foreign policy, stating that the economic sanctions drove people to emigrate from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
While these concerns were being raised, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with their Mexican equivalents at the State Department.
The discussions didn’t revolve around López Obrador’s remarks. Instead, the focus was on strengthening trade and economic connections. They also discussed the issue of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, coming into the U.S. from Mexico. Blinken emphasized the potential of making North America a global powerhouse in terms of productivity and competitiveness.
He highlighted plans to diversify supply chains in emerging electric vehicles and semiconductors industries. Furthermore, he mentioned an initiative between the U.S. and Mexico to produce semiconductors.
Though the current discussions centered on commerce, Blinken will head to Mexico next week alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Their primary focus will be border security and migration issues. The State Department has confirmed that Blinken will meet with López Obrador during this trip.
Regarding the migration issue, experts believe economic mismanagement and political repression are the main reasons for people leaving Venezuela and Cuba. López Obrador proposed that the U.S. redirect some of its aid for Ukraine to economic development in Latin America.
He emphasized the disparity between the U.S.’s funds allocated to the Ukraine situation and the amount provided to combat poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Mexican president advocated for a program to end blockades and stop the U.S. from pressuring sovereign nations.
His vision is to create an environment where citizens of countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras wouldn’t feel the need to emigrate.
In recent times, there has been an increase in Venezuelan migrants trying to pass through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. Many cite worsening conditions in their homeland as the primary reason for their journey.
Although Mexico has expressed disapproval of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it maintains a neutral stance, opting not to join in sanctions. Mexico continues its purchase of COVID-19 vaccines from Russia and Cuba produced in 2020. Lastly, López Obrador downplayed a move by some U.S. Republican legislators to slash the modest foreign aid given to Mexico, deeming the amount, estimated to be around $40 or $50 million, as “ridiculous.”