The meeting between President Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador was dominated by the second, who gave a speech of more than 30 minutes against the 10 of the US president; the Mexican expressed confidence in Biden and offered some suggestions on how to deal with inflation.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed his confidence in President Joe Biden and said that the United States can “count” in Mexico, in addition to thanking the Democrat for respecting Mexican sovereignty.
“President Biden, we trust you, because you respect our sovereignty. Always count on us,” said López Obrador.
López Obrador asks Biden for more work visas for migrants
The Mexican president dominated the public event at the White House, where he spoke for 30 minutes, 20 more than President Biden.
“Since the energy crisis began, Mexico has destined 72 percent of its crude oil exports to the United States,” López Obrador said. “While we wait for prices or gasoline to drop in the United States…it was necessary for us to allow Americans living near the border…to get their gasoline on the Mexican side at lower prices.”
The Mexican president compared the cost of gasoline in the United States and Mexico and pointed out that it is one dollar cheaper per gallon in his country.
He then suggested suspending tariffs and certain regulations, in order to benefit consumers.
“So we can lower prices for consumers in both of our countries,” he suggested. President Biden made no sign of accepting the suggestion, although he has a plan in Congress to avoid collecting the gas tax for three months. The project is still stalled.
López Obrador acknowledged that his speech was extensive. “I’m going to finish,” he said, sparking laughter in the Oval Office.
Although at times it seemed that President Biden was waiting with some desperation for the message from his Mexican counterpart to conclude, in the end he acknowledged that he had “important things” to say.
“He had a lot of important things to say… I agree with the gist of what he is saying. We need to work more together,” Biden said.
President Biden defended his policy of viewing Mexico as “an equal partner.
“Our nations share close ties… and are united through our values and our history,” he said. “Despite the exaggerated headlines we sometimes see, you and I have a strong and productive relationship…and I would say an alliance.”
More permits for migrants
López Obrador considered that the US should allow more highly-skilled Mexican and Central American workers to obtain work permits.
However, he also returned to advocating for undocumented immigrants, who were asked to “regularize.”
“I say it sincerely and in the most respectful way, it is essential for us to regularize and give certainty to migrants who for years have lived and worked very honestly and are also contributing to the development of this great nation,” he said.
The Mexican president said that the “conservatives” would criticize his positions, “they would shout everywhere”, but he considered that the current US and Mexican governments should take bold action.
Biden did not respond to additional actions on work permits, but noted that his administration achieved a record number by issuing 300,000 H-2 visas for Mexicans.
He acknowledged that Mexico has become the main destination for immigrants from other countries, so the situation should be faced “together.”
“My administrator is leading the way in creating job opportunities through legal avenues,” Biden said.
The American thanked AMLO “for taking a step forward as well” and issuing visas for Central American migrants in Mexico.
Biden recalled the investments of $3.4 billion dollars to improve border crossing stations.
Like World War II
The Mexican president said that in the face of the crisis it faces worldwide, due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US and Mexico should have a similar “good neighbors” agreement to the one signed during World War II.
“This will not be the first or the last time that we will close ranks to help each other,” he said. “Despite our differences and also despite our grievances that are not easy to forget… on many occasions we have been able to meet and work together as true allies.”