MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that his policy of dialogue with the United States in the wake of Washington’s decision to impose tariffs on Mexican products was part of a “strategy” to keep the situation calm.
“We have a strategy so that there will be confidence and certainty, so there will not be fear,” Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said during his daily press conference at the National Palace.
Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump said his administration would impose escalating tariffs on Mexico unless that country took aggressive steps to stop the flow of illegal migrants from Central America.
Trump said in a Twitter post that he would impose a 5 percent tariff starting June 10 on all Mexican imports unless the neighboring country halted the northward flow of US-bound migrants.
“The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,” the US president said.
In response to a question about the situation of Mexicans living in the United States, Lopez Obrador said his message for them, as well as for business leaders and investors, was that they had the “support of the government of Mexico.”
“We feel that we are going to reach an agreement,” said Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, adding that “whatever happens, there is going to be progress in Mexico.”
As part of AMLO’s strategy of avoiding provocations, Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is in Washington with a delegation to discuss the situation with US officials.
While Trump has said that he wants action and not words, AMLO has so far responded to the tariff threat by sending a letter to the US leader and a memorandum reiterating the importance of Mexico’s relationship with the United States.
Lopez Obrador noted once again on Monday that his “humanist” administration had taken on the mission of defending migrants looking for work and fleeing violence.
“We’re not going to get caught up in a confrontation and we think that we can reach an agreement with the government of the United States ... We want to continue being friends with President Donald Trump,” the Mexican leader said.
AMLO noted that important US economic actors, including business groups and border state governments, had criticized Trump’s tariff plan.
In response to a question about Mexico’s relations with Central America, where the majority of the migrants come from, Lopez Obrador said there was “a permanent relationship between the diplomats from Mexico and the Central American countries.”
AMLO said the main problem in the region was poverty and he hoped to implement a development plan for Mexico and Central America to create jobs and improve residents’ well-being.
“So the countries of our Central American brothers will have alternatives, have options and not be forced to head off and run risks, many risks to seek something that will reduce their hunger and poverty, which is the basic problem,” the Mexican president said.