Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he spoke with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden by phone Saturday, five days after he sent a tardy and somewhat chilly letter of congratulations to Biden.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to work together for the good of our peoples and our countries,” López Obrador wrote in his social media accounts.
Biden’s transition team said the two discussed migration, apparently with a focus on a theme that López Obrador has championed: developing jobs and opportunities so that people won’t have to migrate.
“The President-elect emphasized the need to reinvigorate U.S.-Mexico cooperation to ensure safe and orderly migration, contain COVID-19, revitalize the economies of North America, and secure our common border,” said a statement posted on Biden’s transition website.
“The two leaders noted a shared desire to address the root causes of migration in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and southern Mexico and to build a future of greater opportunity and security for the region,” the statement continued. “They discussed working together on a new approach to regional migration that offers alternatives to undertaking the dangerous journey to the United States.”
Biden also pledged “to build the regional and border infrastructure and capacity needed to facilitate a new orderly and humane approach to migration that will respect international norms regarding the treatment of asylum claims.”
At present, thousands of Central Americans and others have had to wait in often squalid camps in northern Mexico while awaiting court dates on their U.S. asylum claims, under the “remain in Mexico” policy implemented by President Donald Trump.
López Obrador and Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, finally congratulated Biden only after the Electoral College vote confirmed his victory.
The two were the last major Latin American leaders to send congratulations. Both López Obrador and Bolsonaro were seen as friendly to Trump.
The Mexican president has stressed that maintaining good relations with the United States — Mexico’s northern neighbor and by far its top trading partner — is one of his top priorities.
López Obrador said he intentionally waited until the Electoral College vote before writing to Biden. The brief letter contained an implicit warning against getting involved in Mexico’s internal affairs.