Biden, AMLO, Trudeau Aim to Ease Tension Over Migration
U.S. and Mexican officials said that AMLO’s nationalist energy policy won’t be a substantive part of the summit’s agenda.
(Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will welcome US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Mexico City on Monday for a summit aimed in part at easing tensions over migration and drug smuggling.
Biden, who faces continuing political pressure over a surge of unauthorized migration from Latin America since he took office, arrived in Mexico on Sunday after a confrontation with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in El Paso, Texas, during his first visit to the border as president.
And the summit’s agenda threatens to be overshadowed by events in Brazil, where supporters of defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s capital on Sunday in a riot reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. Biden called the incident “outrageous;” Bolsonaro is believed to have been in Florida since before his successor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration.
The North American countries have enjoyed a more cordial relationship under Biden than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who sought to renegotiate the continent’s free-trade agreement with terms more favorable to the US and never participated in what’s colloquially known as the “three amigos summit.” Biden hosted Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, and Trudeau in November 2021.
But migration, Mexico’s energy policy and accelerating drug overdose deaths in the US are points of friction.
US and Mexican officials said that AMLO’s nationalist energy policy won’t be a substantive part of the summit’s agenda. The US and Canada are weighing whether to seek arbitration over AMLO’s policy favoring Mexico’s state-run electric utility over private renewable energy firms.
Trudeau said in an interview with Reuters published Friday that he and Biden will argue to AMLO that resolving the dispute would help draw more foreign investment to Mexico.
Biden and AMLO will focus their talks on “windows of opportunity” rather than problems between the two countries, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a local radio interview Thursday, adding that Biden’s empathy for Mexico is a boon to relations.
Lopez Obrador seeks Biden’s support to win financing from development banks for an ambitious solar energy project near the northern border, and also wants to partner with the US government in its effort to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
The US is increasingly concerned about fentanyl smuggled from Mexico. US overdose deaths have risen fivefold in the past two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, driven largely by abuse of the synthetic opioid.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Friday that border authorities have seized 20,000 pounds of fentanyl since August.
Ahead of Biden’s visit, Mexican authorities arrested a son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. His capture left 29 soldiers and cartel members dead, the government said, but AMLO’s government can point to the arrest as a sign it’s cracking down on the drug trade.
The US president is also seeking more cooperation with Mexican authorities on border control.
Biden announced last week an expansion of a parole program that would allow more migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua to enter the country under applications submitted by phone app. But along with the new program, the US will refuse entry to more migrants from those countries who show up at the southwest border, returning them to Mexico. AMLO’s government says it supports the plan.
The leaders are also expected to discuss the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Haiti. The US is wary of a unilateral intervention and has pushed for Canada to lead any effort. Canada has sent diplomatic teams to Haiti to assess options, such as a police training mission, but Trudeau has said any international involvement must first have consensus support from Haitian political leaders.
Canada and the US have also been in discussions about resolving a dispute over Nexus, a program that allows swift passage for travelers through airports and border crossings. The two sides are moving closer to a deal, Bloomberg News reported Friday.
Biden and AMLO will meet together with their teams on Monday, before Trudeau joins them for dinner. The three leaders will hold their summit on Tuesday and Biden is scheduled to depart for Washington afterward. Trudeau and AMLO will meet Wednesday.
--With assistance from and .
(Updates with information about Canada-US talks on Nexus in penultimate paragraph. An earlier version corrected Trudeau’s title in the first paragraph.)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.