Mexico Has A New President And New Priorities

Mexico Has A New President And New Priorities

Mexico Has A New President And New Priorities

Mexico swore in their new president this weekend, and despite the marked concerns about his leftist priorities, there appear to be some initial positive results for the United States.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known by his initials AMLO) and his new administration are taking the migrant caravan situation in Tijuana very seriously, and have actually moved the group away from the border.

The city government of Tijuana announced Saturday that it has closed down a migrant shelter at a sports complex close to the U.S. border that once held about 6,000 Central Americans who hope to get into the U.S.

Officials said all the migrants were being moved to a former concert venue much farther from the border. The city said in a statement the sports complex shelter was closed because of “bad sanitary conditions.”

Experts had expressed concerns about unsanitary conditions that had developed at the partly flooded sports complex, where the migrants had been packed into a space adequate for half their numbers. Mud, lice infestations and respiratory infections were rampant.

The remaining migrants were taken by bus to the new shelter about 10 miles from the border crossing at Otay Mesa and 14 miles from San Ysidro, near where people line up to file applications for asylum in the United States.

Tijuana officials had said earlier that nobody would be forced to move to the new facility, a large building and concrete patio known as El Barretal that was used for concerts and other events until about six years ago. But they also warned they would stop offering food and medical services at the Benito Juarez sports complex.

The new shelter is being run by federal authorities.

Also Saturday, in one of his first acts in office, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed an agreement with his counterparts from three Central American countries to establish a development plan to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

Those three Central American countries that AMLO just signed the agreement with? El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Count me among those that finds this a pleasant surprise. It probably doesn’t hurt that Tijuana is well and truly sick of the migrant camps.

And the citizens want the new president to live up to his promise to fix things.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum said the incident on Nov. 25, when hundreds from the caravan ran around Mexican federal police and rushed the border during a march, cost his city 129 million pesos, or $6.3 million, in revenue because U.S. officials closed the border for several hours.

In Tijuana on Saturday, people were watching the presidential inauguration activities closely on their phones and in bars on television. The new president’s inaugural speech blasted from car radios for those waiting in a 90-minute vehicle line to cross into the U.S.

At a restaurant just off Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Diego Gonzalez, 19, said he’s looking for action right away from AMLO — not just big promises that never get fulfilled.

“This president is very different in the way he thinks,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a change. He wants to cause a disruption.”

Gonzalez said the economy should be the president’s prime focus. He said he feels very little pity for the Central American caravan.

“It was stupid of them to come here. It was never going to work,” Gonzalez said.

It’s a realization many in the caravan were coming to grips with by Saturday morning, as they refused to participate in a march planned by By Any Means Necessary, a leftist, pro-immigration group based in Detroit.

“I’m not going to march again. Why? They’re lying to us and saying the United States will let us in,” said Reinerio Lainez, a Honduran migrant. Tears welled in his eyes as he described his situation.

“I believed (U.S. officials) were going to look at my papers and my ID and grant asylum,” Lainez said in Spanish. “I’m confused about what is the process. One people say one thing, another say another.”

In his inauguration speech Saturday, López Obrador promised to address migration issues at the root, saying he will work with his counterparts in Central America to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He followed up, in one of his first acts in office, by signing an agreement with presidents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to do just that. The plan includes a fund to generate jobs in those regions.

One can feel badly for the migrants, who were sold a bill of dreams by activists, and still empathize wholeheartedly with the citizens of Tijuana, who want this mess out of their backyard.

And one can feel relieved that President Trump’s verbalized policy, and the yet-to-be formally confirmed replacement for NAFTA, have kept this caravan on the Mexican side of the border.

Does this mean that AMLO is going to be exactly what we would like to see in a Mexican president? Hardly. Presidential terms in Mexico last six years, so he is going to be around for a while, and it is unnerving that his initial impulse is to use the Mexican military as a police force. Mexico has a lot of cartel and gang issues to tackle, and it is going to require some serious work to make the country safer for its own citizens. But I would rather not see AMLO become the head of a defacto military state on our border, even if that does mean that illegal immigration from Central America is dramatically cut.

Featured image via Pixabay

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1 Comment
  • Charles N. Steele says:

    Use of the Mexican military as internal law enforcement, fighting drug gangs, is nothing new; it’s been done for over a decade.

    Unsurprising since Federal & local police are to some extent infiltrated/bribed by drug gangs. I suppose his is an issue witj the army, too. Regardless, we should probably be more concerned about Mexico becoming a full narco-state or a socialist state than about militarization.

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