View from Mexico: An uncertain future for North America amid Biden, Trudeau visit


MEXICO CITY, Mexico –The arrival here of President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to attend the North American Leaders´ Summit comes at a time when many issues, including border security, immigration, drug trafficking, energy policy and trade, dominate the trilateral agenda.

It’s reported that Biden’s agenda for the meetings will include the challenges of migration, climate and environment, increasing the three nations’ competitiveness as well as emphasizing the need to stop the trafficking of fentanyl into the United States. Trudeau is said to be more concerned about trade issues and especially President Andres Manuel López Obrador´s (AMLO) energy policy, which affects Canadian companies and puts the US-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) at risk. Observers say both leaders have a list of claims and concerns for their Mexican neighbor and partner.

“In the need of re-establishing some type of spirit of cooperation among the three countries, it seems that this summit is a key moment to define and set the tone for the course to follow in immigration, border security, the integration of productive chains and in the revival of economic activity under the rules of the USMCA game for the next two years,” Roberto Salinas, director of the Center for Latin America on Atlas Network, told Fox News Digital

President Joe Biden is greeted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at Felipe Angeles international airport in Zumpango, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023.
(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

EL CHAPO’S SON HAS  BEEN CAPTURED IN SINALOA IN MEXICAN MILITARY OPERATION

Some observers here say it was no coincidence that a few days prior to this summit, Ovidio Guzmán López, the son of drug cartel leader “El Chapo” who is accused of being responsible for massive fentanyl trafficking into the United States, was captured and arrested. AMLO has been demanding that the U.S. government stem the flow of guns and weapons smuggled into Mexico and it is expected that he will continue to do so. 

Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs and professor of politics at New York University, commented, “This is not a strategic achievement, this is a ‘diplomatic achievement’ that allows López Obrador to reject Biden’s possible claims. It is not a victory in the fight against organized crime. In this, López Obrador has been somewhat right in saying that the capo capture strategy is useless and that is why he did not go ahead with that strategy.” 

The former foreign minister noted, “The capture of drug lords is not an effective strategy, first because it causes more violence when the drug lords, who were not captured, dispute the place from which they were captured. Secondly, because the big cartels are simply replaced or fragmented, in which case violence spreads.”

López Obrador has always been critical of foreign meddling in national affairs, which is why he has sought ways to prevent foreign countries, especially the United States, whom he has always treated with some suspicion, from questioning or trying to influence his policies. This is the reason why several analysts consider the capture of Ovidio Guzmán as just a bargaining chip to please the United States and keep it from meddling in the two years AMLO has left in office. 

President Joe Biden speaks with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the border fence in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2023.

President Joe Biden speaks with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the border fence in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2023.
(Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Image)

BIDEN VISITS BORDER FOR FIRST TIME IN PRESIDENCY AS BORDER CRISIS RAGES ON 

“Mexico wants to do at least the bare minimum in terms of counter-drug efforts,” Mike Vigil told The Associated Press in an interview. Vigil was the DEA’s former chief of international operations who spent 13 years of his career in Mexico. He also noted in that interview, “I don’t think that this is a sign that there’s going to be closer cooperation, bilateral collaboration, if you will, between the United States and Mexico.”

Before traveling to Mexico, Biden announced last week that “Mexico has agreed to allow up to… 30,000 persons per month who try, get caught, and get sent back from those four countries who are apprehended while attempting to unlawfully cross the border, the southwest border.” Biden stated, “My message is this: If you’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti, you have – and we – or have agreed to begin a journey to America, do not – do not just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”

Experts say that as long as López Obrador agrees to help Biden contain the border problem, a priority for his administration, the U.S. president will not press too much on other issues.

On the other side, referring to AMLO´s energy and trade policies, Primer Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Both President Biden and I are going to be fairly clear with President López Obrador that this needs to be understood as a way to help Mexico develop, a way to continue to draw in investments from companies in Canada and the United States. I understand he wants to put more of an emphasis on the state-owned energy companies, but it has to be done in a responsible way, and in a way that understands that he is a part of NAFTA (now USMCA) and he has to abide by those rules.”

Men ride on a motorcycle past a burning truck on the streets of Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Men ride on a motorcycle past a burning truck on the streets of Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on Thursday, Jan. 5.
(AP/Martin Urista)

Roberto Salinas said, “It is essential to be able to define and solve the energy issue where AMLO wants to return to the era of monopolies and energy statism in a very clear violation of the USMCA. We hope that this is an opportunity to revive, reanimate and solve this issue and to be able to put Mexico back on track with an energy policy that is more reasonable and open to private investment and to respect the investments and rights of those investors who have committed themselves with the rules of the game of the USMCA.”

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He concluded, “This is a summit that can make visible the enormous opportunities that exist with near shoring for the North American region and thereby consolidate greater competitiveness for a shared future.”

THE Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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