Andrés Manuel López Obrador Misses His Opportunity; Prefers Praise

President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador devoted years to denouncing the nativist policies that animated U.S. President Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. López Obrador devoted years to exposing the weakness of the previous government against Trump. He devoted years to explaining, in detail, how one could confront Trump’s nativist rhetoric. What’s more, López Obrador knows — unlike most Mexican politicians — the profound hurt Trump has inflicted upon Mexican communities in the United States. He knows how toxic it has been. Today, with the chance to expose the “unacceptable” policies of Trump, López Obrador opted for praise. He thanked him for always being “increasingly respectful” toward Mexicans in the United States. He said that Trump had been “kind and respectful” with Mexico and that he hasn’t imposed anything on him. All of this is an abhorrent lie. The Trump administration has relentlessly persecuted millions of undocumented immigrants and has abused a similar number of Central American refugees — the latter with active collaboration from the Mexican government.

López Obrador’s sympathizers would say that this cynicism is in reality a clever appeasement strategy. It isn’t. Subordination is never diplomatic. Mexico’s full consent to Trump’s demands has achieved only a response of disdain and aggression from Trump. It has done little to end arms trafficking and even less to close loopholes permitting the legal purchase of military weapons in the United States. In the meantime, Trump continues boasting about construction of the border wall while strengthening his administration’s horrendous policies on immigration that have harmed millions of Mexicans.

As a candidate, López Obrador promised a bilateral bond based upon respect. As Trump’s presidency comes to an end, the president has achieved the opposite: an unequal relationship based upon the United States’ impositions, Obrador’s compliance and now the diminishing gratitude of the Mexican government.

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