Mexico’s president criticized U.S. aid to Ukraine and economic sanctions against Venezuela, Cuba and other countries on Friday as the first of two high-level meetings between the United States and Mexico began in Washington.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a broad criticism of U.S. foreign policy, saying U.S. economic sanctions were forcing people to emigrate from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The harsh comments came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with their Mexican counterparts at the State Department. None of the officials, including Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena and Economy Secretary Raquel Buenrostro, responded or were asked about López Obrador’s comments.
Instead, they focused on expanding trade and economic ties, welcoming new cooperation on those fronts, and emphasized their commitment to combating the influx of synthetic opioids like fentanyl entering the United States. from Mexico.
“By creating the right incentives and business environments and leveraging the respective strengths of our two countries, we have a tremendous opportunity to make North America the most competitive, productive and dynamic region of the world,” Blinken said.
“We continue to strengthen, expand and diversify supply chains in emerging sectors like electric vehicles and semiconductors,” he said, noting that the United States and Mexico are launching a new initiative to produce semiconductors.
Although Friday’s discussions focused on trade issues, Blinken will lead a U.S. delegation to Mexico next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who will focus on border security and migration.
The State Department said in a statement that Blinken would meet with López Obrador during the Oct. 4-5 trip.
Experts say economic mismanagement and political repression are largely responsible for the flow of migrants leaving Venezuela and Cuba.
López Obrador said the United States should direct part of the money sent to Ukraine to Latin America’s economic development.
“They (the United States) are not doing anything,” he said. “It is more, much more, what they allow for the war in Ukraine than what they give to fight poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
He called for a US program “to lift the blockades and stop harassing independent and free countries, an integrated plan of cooperation so that Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Ecuadorians, Guatemalans and Hondurans are not forced to emigrate.”
There has been an increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants crossing Mexico in recent weeks in an attempt to reach the U.S. border. Many migrants say deteriorating economic and political conditions in their home countries pushed them to undertake the journey.
Mexico condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but adopted a policy of neutrality and refused to participate in sanctions. Mexico also continues to purchase 2020 vintage COVID-19 vaccines from Russia and Cuba.
The Mexican president mocked efforts by U.S. Republican lawmakers to cut the small amount of foreign aid the United States gives to Mexico. López Obrador estimated it was $40 or $50 million, calling it “ridiculous.”