Posted: Saturday, June 1, 2019. 9:15 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to raise tariffs against its southern neighbor, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador extended a hand of negotiation while warning Mexico “[is] not going to fall into any provocations – we are going to act prudently with respect to the authorities of the United States [and] with respect to President Donald Trump.”
In a letter to Trump, Lopez Obrador described Trump’s slogan “America First” as a fallacy and said universal justice was more important than borders. He said Mexico was complying with its responsibility to avoid “as far as possible and without violating human rights, the passage [of migrants] through our country”.
“President Trump: Social problems are not resolved with tariffs or coercive measures,” he added.
“With all due respect, although you have the sovereign right to express this, the slogan ‘United States [America] First’ is a fallacy because, until the end of time, and even over and above national frontiers, universal justice and fraternity will prevail.”
According to the BBC, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard later announced on Twitter that he would lead a delegation to Washington, adding: “The treatment of Mexico is unfair and does not make economic sense to anyone.”
Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, in the midst of a government shutdown over Congress’ refusal to grant significant funds for a border wall, which he deems necessary to tackle the “crisis” of thousands of undocumented migrants crossing the US southern frontier.
The BBC reports that Trump’s latest statement came a day after US border authorities in El Paso, Texas, detained a group of more than 1,000 migrants – the largest single group agents had ever encountered.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Friday that Mexico could have done more to stop the group – and others – as they travelled through the country.
“They could have easily broken up this group, arrested them or sent them back home, and they didn’t do anything,” she told reporters.
“We’re asking Mexico to enforce their own laws to help stop the people coming in from Central America.”
In tweets later on Friday, President Trump said the tariffs were also to encourage Mexico to “take back” the country from drugs cartels.
The U.S. stock market saw losses and business representatives have urged Trump to reconsider. The plan is also opposed by top trade adviser Robert Lighthizer, the BBC says.
Trump proposed an increase of five percentage points per month up to October 1 when the rate reached 25 percent and would stay there, he said, “unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.”
He accuses Mexico of “taking advantage of the United States for decades” and making “a fortune” to avoid fixing the problem. He also took a shot at the Democratic Party for “bad” immigration laws.
The BBC says Mexico was the second largest supplier of goods to the US last year, with imports totaling $352bn, according to Goldman Sachs. In addition to agricultural products like avocados and tequila, Mexico is a major manufacturing hub and hosts many multinational companies from carmakers Ford and General Motors to technology giant IBM and soft drink titan Coca-Cola. Trump expressed the hope that perhaps some of these companies would consider “coming home” as a result of the tariff
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