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Is AMLO Blackmailing Biden? – Mary Anastasia O’Grady/WSJ (video)

Controlling migration flows ensures the Mexican president a pass on democracy. Journal Editorial Report: Republicans think they have found a winning anti-Biden issue.(AP Composite: Mark Kelly)

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

A joint U.S.-Mexico communiqué issued by the White House on Dec. 28 called “democratic decline” one of the root causes of heavy migration flows at the border between the two countries. Mexico’s release of the communiqué the same day, in Spanish, omitted that phrase.

Word has it that Mexico’s Foreign Ministry threw a hissy fit when it saw the White House’s assertion that there is a connection between repression—think Caracas, Havana and Managua—and large waves of emigration. Whether the U.S. tried to defend its language isn’t clear. But those words were rapidly struck from the White House post so that the amended communiqué matched the Mexican version.

A National Security Council spokesperson told me last week that “due to a version-control issue, the initial version of the document that we posted online included an additional phrase that had not been discussed with the Mexicans.”

Or perhaps more accurately, the phrase wasn’t approved by Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, legal adviser to the ministry, was quick to tweet the “corrected” communiqué posted on the White House website.

It would be nice to think that this incident was but a small blip in an otherwise healthy relationship between two North American democracies. It was no such thing. Instead it was the latest example of how the Biden administration bows to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on matters big and small.

AMLO has the upper hand with Mr. Biden because Mexico controls the migrant flows from Tapachula, on its border with Guatemala, to its northern border with the U.S. Mr. Biden needs Mexico’s cooperation as he strives to preserve reckless U.S. immigration policy and still get re-elected.

The world’s bullies are on the move in Europe and the Middle East. Mr. Biden is signaling weakness, as if it’s a secret progressive recipe for world peace. You don’t have to travel seven time zones to see how the Biden administration forfeits U.S. leadership. Ground zero is the Mexico-U.S. border.

A majority of migrants crashing U.S. gates last year came from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, where tyranny has led to dire poverty. But that narrative is unspeakable in AMLO’s government.

The old corporatist can abide neither the gringos nor market economics. He’s also a nationalist with a strong authoritarian streak who is trying to centralize power. The last thing he wants is a coalition of democracies in the Americas, led by the U.S., pressuring him to respect human rights and the independence of institutions.

This explains his defense of the military dictatorships in the region. He blames the surge of huddled masses yearning to enter the U.S. on sanctions out of Washington. He’s been pushing hard to get them lifted.

The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at a press conference in Mexico City, Jan. 5. Photo: Luis Barron/Zuma Press

A joint U.S.-Mexico communiqué issued by the White House on Dec. 28 called “democratic decline” one of the root causes of heavy migration flows at the border between the two countries. Mexico’s release of the communiqué the same day, in Spanish, omitted that phrase.

Word has it that Mexico’s Foreign Ministry threw a hissy fit when it saw the White House’s assertion that there is a connection between repression—think Caracas, Havana and Managua—and large waves of emigration. Whether the U.S. tried to defend its language isn’t clear. But those words were rapidly struck from the White House post so that the amended communiqué matched the Mexican version.

A National Security Council spokesperson told me last week that “due to a version-control issue, the initial version of the document that we posted online included an additional phrase that had not been discussed with the Mexicans.”

Or perhaps more accurately, the phrase wasn’t approved by Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, legal adviser to the ministry, was quick to tweet the “corrected” communiqué posted on the White House website.

It would be nice to think that this incident was but a small blip in an otherwise healthy relationship between two North American democracies. It was no such thing. Instead it was the latest example of how the Biden administration bows to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on matters big and small.

AMLO has the upper hand with Mr. Biden because Mexico controls the migrant flows from Tapachula, on its border with Guatemala, to its northern border with the U.S. Mr. Biden needs Mexico’s cooperation as he strives to preserve reckless U.S. immigration policy and still get re-elected.

The world’s bullies are on the move in Europe and the Middle East. Mr. Biden is signaling weakness, as if it’s a secret progressive recipe for world peace. You don’t have to travel seven time zones to see how the Biden administration forfeits U.S. leadership. Ground zero is the Mexico-U.S. border.

A majority of migrants crashing U.S. gates last year came from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, where tyranny has led to dire poverty. But that narrative is unspeakable in AMLO’s government.

The old corporatist can abide neither the gringos nor market economics. He’s also a nationalist with a strong authoritarian streak who is trying to centralize power. The last thing he wants is a coalition of democracies in the Americas, led by the U.S., pressuring him to respect human rights and the independence of institutions.

This explains his defense of the military dictatorships in the region. He blames the surge of huddled masses yearning to enter the U.S. on sanctions out of Washington. He’s been pushing hard to get them lifted.

The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at a press conference in Mexico City, Jan. 5. Photo: Luis Barron/Zuma Press
The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at a press conference in Mexico City, Jan. 5. (Luis Barron/Zuma Press)

Mr. Biden hasn’t fully acquiesced. But at the margin he’s helping the tyrants. Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro still hasn’t ended the prohibition on Maria Corina Machado’s candidacy for president and arranged for a free election this year. Yet the U.S. has lifted oil and gas sanctions that were designed to force that to happen. Meantime the U.S. Embassy in Havana has been promoting Cuban tourism and co-sponsoring public concerts with a regime that holds more than 1,000 political prisoners in its dungeons and is an ally of Iran and Russia.

Closer to home, Mexico is backsliding on the rule of law, and the U.S. remains eerily silent. One glaring example is the administration’s handling of Mexico’s violation of the energy chapter of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In July 2022 the U.S. requested consultations on the matter, which involves discrimination against investors in oil, gas and renewables. The U.S. still hasn’t convened an arbitration panel. It’s been 536 days. Is protectionist U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai asleep?

More likely, she’s been told not to upset AMLO, who wants to renationalize Mexican energy while avoiding the tariff retaliation permitted under the agreement.

The Biden administration claims to be a great defender of democracy. It’s latest adventure is in Guatemala, where President-elect Bernardo Arévalo will be inaugurated Jan. 14. There is evidence that his Semilla party committed fraud in registering with electoral authorities, and some Guatemalans question his legitimacy. But rather than let the attorney general follow the constitution and allow debates in the public square play out, the Bidenistas, who favor Mr. Arévalo’s ideology, have chilled free speech by imposing new U.S. visa restrictions on some 300 critics. Those punished include a newspaper columnist. Once again, burning down democracy to save it.

Meantime, Mexican democracy is rapidly deteriorating without objection. Property rights are becoming more uncertain. Last week the government seized a hydrogen plant owned by the French company Air Liquide and said it will now be run by the state-owned oil company Pemex. The military is gaining economic and political power, cartels are running wild, and independence of the electoral system is under assault. The moral of the story is don’t mess with Uncle Sam unless you can blackmail him.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.

_______________________________________

Mary Anastasia O’Grady is an Opinion Columnist, writes «The Americas,» a weekly column on politics, economics and business in Latin America and Canada that appears every Monday in the Journal. Ms. O’Grady joined the paper in August 1995 and became a senior editorial page writer in December 1999. She was appointed an editorial board member in November 2005. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Indianapolis­-based Liberty Fund.  EnergiesNet.com does not necessarily share these views.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on January 7, 2024. All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld.

Original article

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EnergiesNet.com 01 08 2024

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