‘We don’t want to fight with the United States government, neither do we want to get involved in their partisan political confrontations…’
(AFP) Last month, President Donald Trump last month ended the financial shakedown from three of the biggest illegal immigration offenders—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—due to their refusal to handle the issue.
Now, Mexico is demanding that the U.S. handouts the countries are rightfully entitled to be returned.
Facing his own White House ultimatum on the border issue, Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that if the U.S. wants to stem the flow of Central American migrants to its southern border, it needs to invest in the region.
Slowing entries from Mexico has been a major focus of President Donald Trump’s administration amid numerous reports of migrant caravans heading up from migrants in Central America’s Northern Triangle.
Mexican officials warned in March that the “mother of all caravans” was forming, which prompted a strong reaction from Trump. After having only days before agreed to joint police operations with the countries, he announced that he was pulling back about $500 million in 2018 aid.
Trump also warned Mexico that he would close the southern border entirely, though he later revised those consequences and said their failure to curb the border crisis would result in a major automotive tariff.
On Monday, Mexico detained 367 mostly Honduran undocumented migrants in its southern Chiapas state.
“We don’t want to fight with the United States government, neither do we want to get involved in their partisan political confrontations,” said Lopez Obrador.
“At the same time, with respect, we’re asking that the problem be tackled with development, with the creation of employment, something that’s not been done.”
Lopez Obrador won his election on a radical left-wing platform that was critical of the Trump administration, but has struggled when confronted with the economic realities of Mexico’s dependence on U.S. trade and support.
That has left him grasping for largely symbolic measures of defiance. Some have said the detention of two US troops north of the Rio Grande, which marks the border between the two countries, may have been such an effort to push back.
Lopez Obrador said a plan announced last week to restrict migrants south of Mexico—keeping them away from the border as they awaited a hearing on US asylum claims—was for their own safety and not a means to placate Washington.
“We don’t want them to have free passage and not just for legal reasons but also for security,” Lopez Obrador told his morning news conference.
“Unfortunately in the north we had problems with the murder of migrants at another time and we don’t want this. Most of the violence is in northern states [of Mexico] and we prefer looking after the Central American migrant population in the south and southeast.”
In 2010, 72 migrants were kidnapped and murdered in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas while traveling clandestinely to the US.
They were believed to be the victims of the Los Zetas drug cartel that allegedly wanted to forcibly recruit them.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
© Agence France-Presse