A Joe Biden presidency could reestablish ties with Mexico, one of the United States’ main trading partners, which has suffered since Donald Trump launched his first White House bid, accusing Mexican migrants of rapists and arms traffickers and promising to keep them away with a border wall.
Biden, who served as vice president with Barack Obama, was declared the winner of the US presidential election by major television networks on Saturday, despite President Trump having repeatedly launched claims of fraud.
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The democrat has pledged to stop the construction of Trump’s wall and follow a much more “humane” immigration policy in line with that advocated by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Under Trump, Mexico has had to navigate abrupt demands to contain illegal migration or face a drop of more than $ 600 billion in annual bilateral trade.
López Obrador has adhered to Trump’s immigration dictates, forging an uneasy relationship of some mutual convenience. In return, the Mexican president opened up space to change the rules on investment in the energy sector.
Diplomats, politicians, and foreign policy experts believe that Biden would put risky politics and outright coercion behind him.
“There will be no more ‘bullying.’ The pulpit of the White House will no longer be used to harass Mexico, either on the trade agenda or on any of the other agendas,” said Andrés Rozental, Mexico’s former Foreign Secretary.
“We will return to a more normal relationship. With business problems and disputes and other things,” including security, he said. “But they will be treated in the same way as in the past.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s treatment of Mexico.
Despite Biden’s conciliatory proposals on migration, Mexican officials acknowledge that he will not want to face a sudden surge in migrants. Then Mexico would maintain firm control of its southern border, they say.
To complicate matters, tensions have risen following the arrest last month of a former Mexican defense secretary in Los Angeles at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
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Mexico has publicly expressed its displeasure at being relegated from the operation to arrest former Army chief Salvador Cienfuegos on drug trafficking charges, and López Obrador said this week that he wants to review cooperation between the two countries on anti-drug policy.
“This is one of the most direct challenges to the synergistic, strategic and prospective relationship that has been developing between Mexico and the United States,” said Arturo Sarukhán, former Mexican ambassador to Washington.
PRESSURE ON ENERGY POLICY
Biden is also facing pressure to moderate López Obrador’s push to empower Mexican state energy companies at the expense of private firms, which has called into question billions of dollars in foreign investment.
Both Mexican and US business groups hope Biden will urge López Obrador to honor his contracts, and litigation related to the issue already threatens to create problems for Mexico.
López Obrador has said he would work with whoever wins the election, though he upset some US Democrats by making his only visit abroad as president to Trump in the White House in July, lavishing him with praise, images that became part of his campaign to reelection.
But those close to López Obrador assure that the Mexican was always cautious, seeing Trump as dangerously unpredictable and susceptible to turning against the Latin American country at any time if it suited him.
Many officials in Mexico privately hope that diplomatic issues will revert to more traditional institutional paths.
“No party is honey on flakes for Mexico,” said Gabriela Cuevas, a legislator and foreign policy expert for López Obrador’s party. But Biden appears to be much more committed to a multilateral environmental agenda than Trump, which will benefit Mexico in the long run, he added.
It will be positive to have a voice that is much more concerned about what happens on the planet at the head of a country as important as the United States, “said Cuevas.
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