Monday, March 4, 2024

AMLO urges Biden to lead further regional integration at bilateral talks

President López Obrador called on United States President Joe Biden to end U.S. “abandonment” and “disdain” toward other countries in the region during frank opening remarks at bilateral talks in Mexico City on Monday.

Speaking after a welcome ceremony for Biden at the National Palace, López Obrador asserted that the United States has done little to aid development in the Americas since the end of the Alliance for Progress, an aid program initiated by former U.S. president John F. Kennedy in 1961.

“I consequently maintain that it’s time to end this neglect, this abandonment, this disdain toward Latin America and the Caribbean, [which is] in contrast to the Good Neighbor policy of that titan of freedom who was president Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, López Obrador called Biden a “humanistic and visionary leader” and urged him to lead a “new policy of economic and social integration on our continent.”

He said that the North American free trade agreement, the USMCA, has been a “valuable instrument to strengthen our productive processes” and take advantage of the “great potential” of the region, but expressed misgivings about the level of imports from Asia.

“The arrival of ships full of merchandise from Asia continues growing at our Pacific ports. And the question we’re asking is the following: Couldn’t we produce what we consume in America? Of course we could. It’s a matter of … planning our future development together,” AMLO said.

“… The productive integration we’re proposing must have the support of public and private investment, for the well-being of all the peoples of America without excluding anyone,” he said.

Flanked by high-ranking officials including Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Interior Minister Adán Augusto López, the president — who has advocated the economic integration of Western Hemisphere nations on several previous occasions — told Biden he has “the key to open and substantially improve the relations between all the countries of the American continent.”

“I know that it’s a complex and controversial initiative and I’m aware that putting it into practice involves numerous difficulties, but in my judgement there isn’t a better way to guarantee the prosperous, peaceful and fair future that our people … as well as all the people of the continent, and future generations, deserve,” he said.

Biden in a wood paneled room, with two out-of-focus officials in the foreground
Biden’s response to President López Obrador’s comments highlighted the funds the U.S. has spent on development projects in the hemisphere in recent decades. (Presidencia de la República)

“The proposal, President Biden, is comprehensive. It involves consolidating ourselves as an [important] economic region in the world, strengthening fraternity in the American continent, respecting our differences and sovereignty and ensuring that no one is left behind,” López Obrador added.

“…There are a lot of us who haven’t stopped dreaming of a fair and fraternal integration of all the people and countries of our continent.”

Making his opening remarks after his Mexican counterpart, Biden retorted that “just in the last 15 years,” the U.S. has “spent billions of dollars in the hemisphere — tens of billions of dollars.”

“And what we have to do, and what we’ve done, is continue to support and build democratic institutions in the hemisphere. One of the things that I was able to do at the G7 was get the G7 to agree that we would have a multi, multi-billion dollar project for infrastructure for the Western Hemisphere, for Latin America, and for Africa,” said the U.S. president, who was also accompanied by a delegation of senior officials.

In a readout published by the White House, the U.S. government said that Monday’s meeting between Biden and López Obrador “builds upon 200 years of bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico, an enduring partnership that reflects our shared values and the cultural and familial bonds between our two countries.”

The statement said that the two leaders discussed the violent protests in Brazil on Sunday — along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau they issued a joint statement condemning the violence — and reviewed security cooperation under the Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities.

On social media, President López Obrador shared a video montage of some of the moments he spent with his U.S. counterpart over the first days of the official visit.

They also “discussed increased cooperation to prosecute drug traffickers and dismantle criminal networks, disrupt the supply of illicit precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, shut down drug laboratories, and prevent trafficking of drugs, arms, and people across our shared border.”

The meeting came just four days after Ovidio Guzmán, son of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was arrested in Culiacán, Sinaloa.

In addition, Biden and López Obrador “reaffirmed their commitment” to the USMCA, “discussed their shared vision for greater economic integration to increase productive capacity and promote inclusive growth” and “reaffirmed their commitment to implement innovative approaches to address irregular migration.”

Ahead of trilateral talks at the North American Leaders Summit on Tuesday, the two presidents were joined by Trudeau for an official dinner at the National Palace on Monday night. Later in the evening, López Obrador shared a slickly-produced video of his meeting with Biden to his social media accounts.

“Welcome to your home, President Biden,” he wrote above the footage.

“You are our friend and the United States people are as well. Together we can drive a new era for the nations of the continent based on mutual respect and assistance. There are unbeatable conditions to strengthen the economic and social integration of America.”

Mexico News Daily 

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