EL PASO, Texas — There’s been no red carpet rolled out, no neighborly welcome, not even a nod on social media.
A month after the U.S. election, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hasn’t publicly congratulated President-elect Joe Biden. His silence has raised concerns in Mexico and the Borderland about the future of the two neighbors’ relationship, the tone of which can influence trade, immigration, security and drug enforcement.
An official with the Biden transition team told the El Paso Times in an email that the President-elect “looks forward to a warm and constructive relationship with his Mexican counterpart,” given that “the scale of the shared challenges we face require deep and concerted cooperation.”
Citing unnamed sources in Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations, the Reuters news agency reported Tuesday that López Obrador would extend congratulations after the Electoral College votes on Dec. 14.
Still, the Mexican leader’s silence has puzzled foreign policy experts and disappointed those who want to see a return to increased cooperation between the two nations on key issues.
That includes the implementation of labor and environmental provisions of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, including Mexico’s enforcement of the rights of Mexican factory workers to unionize. It also includes a return to bilateral cooperation on humanitarian methods of curbing migration, as well as renewed attention to the simmering drug war in Mexican border cities.
In Juárez alone, nearly 1,500 people have been murdered this year, according to the Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office.
The future ability of families to legally cross the border also hangs in the balance as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The two countries lack a binational strategy to reopen U.S. border crossings, including those linking El Paso and Juárez, that have been closed to non-essential traffic and most Mexican nationals since March.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) characterized López Obrador’s silence as “extremely disappointing and disrespectful to the will of the American people.”
“While President-elect Biden has held multiple calls with foreign leaders, Mexico — our No. 1 trading partner — is wasting an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the U.S. and work closely with the Biden-Harris administration to address our common challenges, including the public health and humanitarian crises that have deeply impacted our border region.”
Source: El Paso Times