President López Obrador doesn’t just want to welcome his United States counterpart to the hallowed halls of the National Palace in Mexico City, he also wants to take him off the beaten path to visit community-built infrastructure projects in the country’s south.
AMLO, as the president is best known, revealed Tuesday that he had invited U.S. President Joe Biden to visit rural roads recently built by residents of Oaxaca.
Speaking at his regular news conference a day after holding virtual talks with Biden, López Obrador said that he spoke to the U.S. president about a range of infrastructure projects that generate jobs and give Mexicans the opportunity to stay at home rather than migrate.
“I spoke to him about the Maya Train, the Isthmus [of Tehuantepec trade corridor] project and the roads in Oaxaca. And I lingered on that, explaining how the people, men and women, are building the roads and that they’re works of art. So I invited him, when he is in Mexico, … to [visit] Oaxaca to see these roads,” he said.
AMLO’s claim that the roads are “works of art” is debatable given that construction deficiencies have been detected in at least 22 of them.
The president also revealed Tuesday that Biden invited him to attend the Climate Leaders’ Summit to be hosted by the United States, most likely virtually, on April 22, which is Earth Day.
“We’re going to see if we can participate, if not a committee will go. In other words, without a doubt we’re going to participate,” he said.
The president also said that he told Biden about his government’s plan to make changes to the electricity market to favor the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission.
“I raised it with him because I spoke about the priorities of our government. … I [also] told him that we’re cleansing Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission of corruption, I said that these companies had been looted [by past governments] but we’re putting things in order. He listened,” López Obrador said.
The United States last week urged urged Mexico to listen to the concerns of the private sector with regard to the proposed overhaul of the electricity market but the president remains committed to the bill and has made it clear that he doesn’t want the U.S. meddling in Mexico’s affairs or telling it what to do.
AMLO described Monday’s meeting as friendly and said that Biden was “very respectful.”
In his opening remarks, Biden, the United States’ second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, said that he paid his respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe during his visits to Mexico as vice president and revealed that he was wearing rosary beads that his son was wearing when he died in 2015.
López Obrador said Tuesday that Biden’s rosary-wearing “confession” and mention of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is revered in Mexico, demonstrated that the U.S. president is not a “wooden, rigid politician” but rather a sensitive man.