Kamala Harris, vice president of the United States, will visit several Central American countries; on June 8, she will come to Mexico. As of this writing, the locations and duration of her stops are not set, but it is clear that her principal objective is a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which will allow her to report to her boss on immigration issues as well as where Lopez Obrador ultimately wants to take the country.
It is her first assignment outside of the U.S. and she follows in the footsteps of President Joe Biden, who traveled through those same countries on more than one occasion as vice president. The White House has very detailed and rigorous preparations for these visits. Various government departments prepare informative files detailing relevant issues in each country on the travel agenda, describing the government, economy, political environment, business leadership, academics, intellectuals, communication outlets. There is special emphasis on knowing and understanding the attitudes toward the U.S. and its ties to the rest of the world.
The trip was planned in light of the stream of Central American immigrants that arrive by the dozens at the Mexican border, the first crisis confronted by this U.S. administration. They have to know that, even though the issue seems to have calmed down, it is by no means resolved. They do know that the Mexican government has deployed the National Guard to our borders.
The analyses that have certainly already been received will make her aware of the deep level of indebtedness that Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have carried for many decades. They will inform her of the role that the CIA played in this region, supporting criminal dictators who exercised violent and corrupt power by murdering thousands of citizens. Her country’s legacy in this region yields a dark balance sheet. Today its hosts are both questioned and questionable, with growing rumors of corruption, protecting narcotrafficking and acts of selective repression.
Biden and Harris have said that they want to attack the causes of immigration by generating opportunities for work and well-being for those who lack that today. The concept is impeccable, nothing new by the way, but, to this day, ever further from being achieved. This is why tens of thousands of people travel to the U.S. on the chance that they will find a better life.
Which issues are priorities on the agenda between Mexico and the U.S.? Will the Mexican leader insist on his idea, “Sembrando Vida” (“Sowing Life”),* as part of the solution? Will he request that the U.S. take our agricultural workers?
I suppose Harris will pay attention to form. She has a smooth style, friendly smile, sensitivity and a sharp intelligence, complemented by years of political experience. But she will return to Washington to report on the good and the worrisome that she finds in Mexico. What will she tell Biden about the results of the June 6 election? What can be expected of Lopez Obrador, given his attitude toward the rule of law, in the case of a result contrary to his expectations? What about his verbal attacks on the Drug Enforcement Administration agents and the rupture of the mechanisms of collaboration? What was the response to the rising rate of violence that Mexico suffers, and how open will Lopez Obrador be to more collaboration with our neighbor? What about the changes in energy policy that have affected investors? What about his attacks on media outlets, on academics and journalists who report on government errors and abuses?
Lopez Obrador has stated, as expected, that Mexico is a sovereign state and therefore will not accept external meddling. It is logical and normal for him to say this, but things don’t work that way when there are substantial interests between two countries with such intense and relevant proximity. Biden and Harris have a global vision that respects arguments about sovereignty, but also demands congruency and compromise with its interests and principles.
*Editor’s note: “Sembrando Vida” is a reforestation project in Mexico intended to help the environment and provide jobs in rural areas.