February 16, 2001: Joint Statement and Remarks with President Fox of Mexico

President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox released the following joint statement on February 16, 2001.

The Guanajuato Proposal

We met today at Rancho San Cristobal, in Guanajuato, in a dialogue of friends and neighbors to agree on important goals and principles that will govern relations between our two countries.

We are united, as never before, by values and interests that cover the entire span of our rich and broad relationship.  That relationship is grounded in our respect for democracy and human rights, not just for ourselves but for all people in every nation.  We share a fundamental commitment to free trade as an engine of economic growth and development that leaves nobody behind.  And, we are committed to ensuring the rule of law, the framework on which our people’s freedom and prosperity depends. This common outlook is the basis for a full, mature, and equitable partnership for prosperity.

Among our highest priorities is unfettering the economic potential of every citizen, so each may contribute fully to narrowing the economic gaps between and within our societies.  We acknowledge the dynamism achieved through NAFTA, which has ushered in dramatic increases in trade that have transformed our economic relationship.  After consultation with our Canadian partners, we will strive to consolidate a North American economic community whose benefits reach the lesser-developed areas of the region and extend to the most vulnerable social groups in our countries.  To this end, we support policies that result in sound fiscal accounts, low inflation, and strong financial systems.

Migration is one of the major ties that bind our societies.  It is important that our policies reflect our values and needs, and that we achieve progress in dealing with this phenomenon.   We believe that Mexico should make the most of the skills and productivity of their workers at home, and we agree there should be an orderly framework for migration which ensures humane treatment, legal security, and dignified labor conditions. For this purpose, we are instructing our Governments to engage, at the earliest opportunity, in formal high-level negotiations aimed at achieving short and long-term agreements that will allow us to constructively address migration and labor issues between our two countries.  This effort will be chaired by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General of the U.S. and the Secretary of Foreign Relations and the Secretary of the Interior of Mexico.

We attach the utmost importance to issues affecting the quality of life along our common border.  We shall work for the economic and social development of our border communities, fight violence and strive to create a safe and orderly environment.  We will form a new high-level working group under the auspices of the Binational Commission to identify specific steps each country can take to improve the efficiency of border operations. We will begin immediate discussions to implement the NAFTA panel decision on trucking.

Drug trafficking, drug abuse, and organized crime are major threats to the well-being of our societies.  To combat this threat, we must strengthen our respective law enforcement strategies and institutions, as well as develop closer and more trusting bilateral and multilateral cooperation.  We want to reduce the demand for drugs and eliminate narcotrafficking organizations.  To this end, we will undertake immediate steps to review law enforcement policies and coordination efforts in accordance with each country’s national jurisdiction.  We will consult with our NAFTA partner Canada regarding development of a North American approach to the important issue of energy resources.  Building on the strength of our respective cultures, we will seek to expand our partnership broadly in ways that help secure a better future for our people.  Education is a key to that future; we will increase exchanges and internships that help develop human capital and promote respect for each other’s rich cultural heritage.  We will seek new cooperation in science, technology, and the environment, on which much of our economic progress and our people’s well-being will depend. Beyond the bilateral agenda, our two Governments are also ready to discuss regional and hemispheric issues important to both our nations.  The Summit of the Americas, to be held in April in Quebec City, will provide a valuable forum in which the hemisphere’s democracies can address and advance shared goals of strengthening democratic institutions and stimulating economic prosperity through free trade and education.  We reaffirm our support for the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas as soon as possible.

We believe our two nations can now build an authentic partnership for prosperity, based on shared democratic values and open dialogue that bring great benefits to our people.  We want to move beyond the limitations of the past and boldly seize the unprecedented opportunity before us.  In order to achieve these goals and follow up on the commitments we made today, we have agreed to meet frequently, as necessary, over the course of our respective terms of office.  We will do so as friends, in a spirit of mutual trust and respect.

Presidents Bush and Fox made the following remarks at a joint press conference at Rancho San Cristobal in Guanajuato, Mexico, on February 16, 2001.

PRESIDENT FOX: Good afternoon. Good afternoon, Mr. President. This morning I have held very productive and cordial talks with the President of the United States, Mr. George W. Bush. We have agreed on a set of principles and values to provide our relationship as neighbors with more constructive dynamics of more intense cooperation, in order to unfold all the potential of our bilateral relations.

The fact that the President, George Bush’s first foreign visit has our country as its destination is a clear message of the interest his administration places on strengthening links with Mexico. At the same time, it is quite a distinction.

This starting point is very encouraging, so that both Mexicans and Americans, together, to inaugurate an era of shared prosperity together. I also acknowledge President Bush’s demonstration of friendship by coming to Guanajuato, the cradle of Mexico’s independence. And I am particularly grateful for his greeting my mother, Dona Mercedes, as well as for his visit to my house — his house — here in San Cristobal.

Let me tell you, Mr. President, that you will always be welcome in this, your home — or, in your language, President, you know that we consider you a friend of Mexico, a friend of Mexican people, and a friend of mine.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT FOX: The agreements we have reached today are embodied in the document that we have, and we ratified our commitment to values of democracy and the promotion of human rights, as well as the aim of the fruits of development reach all sectors of our society.

The global and hemispheric agenda was also an important part of our talks, as is fitting in a mature dialogue between two prominent members of the international community. We have identified a renewed will for cooperation to design, together with our Canadian partners, a region guided by the search for shared prosperity.

We, the Presidents of Mexico and the United States, have the favorable circumstance of beginning our respective mandates simultaneously. This enables us to project our common objectives with a long-term vision and to undertake negotiations in areas that require a decisive and systematic impetus from the two governments.

Mr. President Bush, the spirit in which we have conducted this first working meeting marks the beginning of a novel stage in our bilateral relations. I am certain that we will be able to take advantage of the historic opportunity we have today to set out on the way to a century of shared prosperity. We will face this challenge on the basis of mutual trust, with a fresh and creative vision to advance in the topics of our bilateral agenda.

Once again, welcome, and this is your home.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Muchos gracias, amigo, el Presidente de Mexico. Su recepcion tan calida refleja el grande amistad entre nuestros pueblos. Me hace sentir que estoy entre familia. Thank you very much.

It’s a great honor to come to Mexico as this important nation enjoys a new birth of freedom, signaled by President Fox’s election. Our meetings today have been a really good opportunity to renew our personal friendship and the friendship between Mexico and the United States.

Mexico is the first foreign country I have visited as President, and I intended it to be that way. Our nations are bound together by ties of history, family, values, commerce and culture. Today, these ties give us an unprecedented opportunity. We have a chance to build a partnership that will improve the lives of citizens in both countries.

I came here today to seek President Fox’s views on how we can go about building on our partnership. We enjoyed a warm and substantive and frank dialogue on the many issues that shape the relationship between America and Mexico.

We talked about strengthening our trade relationship, which offers hope and opportunity on both sides of our border. We talked about how our two nations can work together to meet our current and future energy needs. We exchanged ideas about safe and orderly migration, a policy that respects individuals on both sides of the border. We talked about expanding educational opportunities. We talked about what we can do together to fight drug trafficking and other types of organized crime.

We also talked about what we can do together to extend the benefits of freedom and prosperity throughout the entire hemisphere. I told President Fox that building a hemisphere of freedom will be a fundamental commitment of my administration. We both look forward to discussing these ideas with other hemispheric leaders in Quebec in April at the Summit of the Americas.

We are welcoming a new day in the relationship between America and Mexico. Each nation has a new President, and a new perspective. Geography has made us neighbors; cooperation and respect will make us partners. And the promise of the partnership was renewed and reinvigorated today.

Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT FOX: If I understood correctly, we’re going to take questions in Spanish for the Mexican press, and some questions in English for the American press. So we’ll go first to the women first, and here we’ll take the Spanish question first.

Q I have two questions, one for the President of Mexico. We’ve spoken about new agreements and a new path on migration issues. What has been the advancements on the two topics as you — you’re campaign to open the border for the free transit of people and to have the free trade agreement in the same way that the European Community has done it?

You talked to President Bush about the amnesty, about the illegal aliens in the United States. I have a question for President Bush. What is the message that you want to send right now, what does the United States want to send to the world as a message with the new bombing of Iraq? And, above all, why, Mr. Bush, at this point, when you are establishing a dialogue with the President of Mexico? Why? Is this a beginning of a new war?

PRESIDENT FOX: Actually, we discussed amply the migration issues that we have. But this is not a meeting in which decisions or details are going to be reached, because they do not belong in the power of — the executive power, as such, because they have to have the participation of other groups.

We have spoken on migration from the viewpoint of our countrymen that are in the United States, and we have spoken about the possibilities of working on agreements of temporary legal work and employment. We have spoken on the firm idea that we have of fighting violence against immigrants, and to work based on the law, and to see how the coyotes and all the people that will be taking these people — or the polleros taking our illegal workers into U.S. territory.

We have spoken of a long-term vision and approach and constructive approach on this topic. And perhaps here, the most important thing will be presented by President Bush later on. But certainly there is a new attitude, there is a new way of approaching things, much more positive approach to things on this issue of migration.

The conclusion has been to create a commission at the highest level, as it was read in the Guanajuato Proposal, to begin and to discuss and to advance on this topic on very concrete steps. I believe this is a great advancement on what we had before.

PRESIDENT BUSH: In answer to part B of your question, the United States is engaged in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. We will remain so. Since 1991, our country has been enforcing what’s called a no-fly zone. A routine mission was conducted to enforce the no-fly zone. And it is a mission about which I was informed and I authorized. But, I repeat, it is a routine mission, and we will continue to enforce the no-fly zone until the world is told otherwise.


Q Sir, as you say, this is the first military action you’ve taken as President of the United States. I’m wondering whether it signals a hardening of the U.S. position towards Iraq. And specifically, is it your goal to drive Saddam Hussein from power? And, secondly, are you putting Saddam on notice today that American military action will be more frequent or more forceful than it was before you became President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Fournier, Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone, both south and north. Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible. And we’re going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction, and if we catch him doing so we’ll take the appropriate action.

Q Mr. President, President Bush, welcome to Mexico. We will be waiting for you in Cancun. The question is on globalization; the question, support to Mexico. And another question, certification in Mexico, will it continue? Will it disappear forever? Would you trust our friend, Fox?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The question is on drug certification and really about our relations with President Fox. I trust your President. He’s the kind of man you can look in the eye and know he’s shooting straight with you. I appreciate the fact that he was a one-time governor. I’ve got kind of partiality to governors.

We need to work together on the drug issue. One of the reasons why drugs are shipped — the main reason why drugs are shipped through Mexico to the United States is because United States citizens use drugs. And our nation must do a better job of educating our citizenry about the dangers and evils of drug use.

Secondly, I believe there is a movement in the country to review all the certification process. I’m certainly going to take the message back to the members of Congress that I firmly believe that President Fox will do everything in his power to root out the drug lords and to halt drug trafficking as best as he possibly can.

As you know, he made some very bold and courageous statements about extradition. He showed unique leadership on that issue. It certainly caught my attention. And I believe when the American people and the members of Congress hear this bold action that he’s willing to take, they will understand what I know, that he is committed to battling the drug trade.

Jim — Steve, sorry. You are? (Laughter.) We’ve got you out of order — I know you’re Steve. Stefan, hombre muy bueno.

Q Sir, now that Republicans have told you there are not enough votes for your tax plan in the Senate, how do you proceed from here? And do you consider cutting the size of it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: His question was about our tax plan. I don’t agree with that assessment, that there are not enough votes in the Senate. I believe when it’s all said and done, we’re going to get a tax bill out of the House and the Senate that will be at the level I think it ought to be. I know there is a lot of speculation about members, but it’s early, it’s early in the process.

Washington, Mr. President, has got a unique way of asking Presidents to negotiate with themselves. And that’s not what is going to happen in this administration. We’ll get a tax package because it’s the right thing for the American people.

Ours, Mr. President, is getting ready to submit a budget that will set priorities. Education will be a priority; health care for our citizens will be a priority; setting aside Social Security — all the payroll taxes for Social Security will be a priority. We’ve still got money left over and I want to pass some of it back to the people who pay the bills, in order to make sure our economy does not drag.

And the President and I talked about economic growth. He knows exactly what I know, that if our economy were to slow significantly, it would affect our abilities to see the benefits of free trade; it would affect the Mexican economy.

And so I want to assure our friends from Mexico that we will put fiscal and monetary — I have nothing to do with monetary policy, of course — but fiscal policy in place that will affect economic growth, because it is beneficial not only for our people, but for the Mexican people.

Look, to answer your question directly, we are going to get a good tax cut through and I think it is going to be the size I’m suggesting.

Q To President Fox, since you two are working together on several actions that you want to undertake together in a short future and also in the long-term future, do you support the military actions like the ones like the United States is doing, bombing Iraq? Thank you.

PRESIDENT FOX: I do not have a position or a statement on that topic, specifically because this will be done through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the future.

It’s your turn.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Short answer, Mr. President. (Laughter.) Campbell Brown.

Q Much has been made of you choosing Mexico as your first foreign trip. But it is also causing consternation among the European allies and Canada that you are going to put a greater emphasis here at the expense of those countries. What do you say to that, please?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I appreciate that question. First, I met with Prime Minister Chretien and assured him that a vision of — a foreign policy that understands good policy starts in the neighborhood is a vision that goes both north and south.

I would hope that nations around the world, and leaders, would understand the logic behind saying that good foreign policy, good relations must be firm on our borders. I can’t think of anything more logical and more common-sensical than to understand our hemisphere which can be and will be bound by freedom and free markets and free trade is in the interests of our people.

We’ll have a foreign policy as one that engages the world. I’ve rejected isolationism, as you know, and protectionism. Ours is going to be an active foreign policy. It’s going to be consistent and firm; one that starts, though, by building friendships — in this case, renewing a friendship. And it should send a strong signal to all nations who watch that if you’re our friend, we’ll be your friend. And Mexico is our friend and will remain our friend.

Q Thank you very much, Presidents Bush and Fox. A question for President Fox. Do you think that it is not an improper gesture in this for a visit that the recent bombing of Iraq is one that is attracting the attention, and would put a shade or a shadow on this meeting here in Guanajuato?

PRESIDENT FOX: I see no reason why we should connect one event with the other one. Here we are in the process of building up and constructing a strategy to foster the economic and human development of a complete region that is formed by three countries that have been associated under a free trade agreement, and the relationship between the United States and Mexico that has proven already that has made advancements, very constructively.

The levels of trade we have are really fantastic and they are the envy of many people. Many people have never thought that in the year of 2001 with a trade balance of $250 billion. This has meant development for the United States; it has meant employment in the United States. It has meant development and employment in Mexico, as well.

This is what has allowed us to reduce substantially the level of poverty in Mexico. In the last four years, more than 4 million poor people have gone beyond extreme poverty levels. This is what we have invested on, to take these people above this level. And all the time that we have invested discussing these strategic points allow us to see that there is a possibility of going ahead to get more benefits from good relationships and to be true partners toward prosperity, and to be true friends and to be true neighbors.

And this purpose is something that has been clearly stated today and we’re very pleased with it. And we are full of confidence that we can see the future with a more optimistic approach as of today’s meeting.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Apologies to you, Presidente Fox, for not asking a question about the U.S. and Mexico. But, President Bush, if I may, another question about Iraq. As we understand it, this was in response to violations that have happened over several weeks, perhaps several months. What prompted you to take this decision at this time?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The commanders on the ground, rightly, make the decision as to how to enforce the no-fly zone. I want to assure those who don’t understand U.S. policy that this is a routine mission. Some of the missions require the Commander-in- Chief to be informed. This was such a mission. It is not the first time it has happened, regrettably so.

We will continue to enforce the no-fly zones. The no-fly zones are enforced on a daily basis. It is a part of a strategy, and until that strategy is changed, if it is changed at all, we will continue to enforce the no-fly zone.

But, anyway, the decision is made on the ground, Jim.

Q I would like to ask you whether there was a petition from the U.S. government as far as oil is concerned, or any requests for support on electricity and oil?

PRESIDENT FOX: No, not specifically. We spoke about the California problems, by itself, and, yes, we are speaking about the possibility of creating an energy policy that will be common to all the northern part of the country and into Canada, the United States and Mexico and part of Central America, to try to create a synergy or a synergism so that each one of the countries would benefit from all these policies, because there is energy that we need to import in Mexico that we do not have enough, and at this moment we know in some part of the U.S. territory, this is happening, too. And the same could happen to the Central American countries.

Here, what is important is to have a common policy whereby no one takes advantage of the other. But the other way around it, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone, that everyone would be benefitted from the organization of an energy plan for the benefit of all the continent of, in this case, the northern part of the Americas.

We also spoke about water problems at the border zones. These are common problems that we have, and if we administer and manage these common problems in a timely manner, in a positive and optimistic way, we could mutually be benefitted in the water problems that we have at the border. And this is something that obviously we discussed here.

I believe this is the foundation that we laid down for our project today. And we are trying with goodwill to remove all the obstacles and to take advantage of all the opportunities that we have. And, certainly, today we saw more opportunities than obstacles. And therefore, I do ratify that this makes us see the near future with much more optimism than before.

Q Mr. President, when you met with President Fox in August in Dallas, you talked about the possibility of finding ways to share energy resources. With the current climate in America — energy prices high, supplies low — can you tell me how you pushed that issue today and what sense of progress you have?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, I appreciate that. The question was about energy policy. First of all, good energy policy is one that encompasses not only Mexico, but Canada. We must think about energy shortages and energy demands in regards to our hemisphere.

Secondly, the President and I did discuss how best to share resources to the benefit of both countries. We talked about the possibility of exploration in Canada and the United States and Mexico. A cubic foot of gas imported into Mexico is one, obviously, less able to burn in the United States. It is a hemispheric issue and it needs to be elevated to the presidential level.

We did talk about power, the generation of power; the possibility as to whether or not in Baja, for example, more power could be added to the Western Grid. It’s an obvious opportunity, if possible. Now, there are some bottlenecks, and one of the things we need to do is address those bottlenecks, one of which is the ability to transmit power from south to north.

Now, there is pipeline availability. And we’re going to need to — so when we talk about an energy policy at home, it is also in the context of Mexico and Canada. This is an issue where we need to continue the dialogue. It’s an issue that is going to affect the people of Mexico and the people of the United States if we don’t recognize that we need more supply.

We can conserve better; there’s no question about it. But demand is far outstripping supply, which is creating a real problem for the working people of our respective countries. And so this subject, rightly so, took quite a bit of time in our meeting, and is going to take more time down the road.

We have a great opportunity to come together and have a strategy that honors Mexico and honors its sovereignty and, at the same time, recognizes that people are what matters most. And we’ve got to make sure our people have got the energy necessary to be able to find jobs and find work.

PRESIDENT FOX: We are finished. Thank you very much for coming to the press conference. Good luck and thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: They just want to get in the picture.

April 20, 1914: Message Regarding Tampico Incident

President Woodrow Wilson delivered the following message on April 20, 1914.

Gentlemen of the Congress:

It is my duty to call your attention to a situation which has arisen in our dealings with General Victoriano Huerta at Mexico City which calls for action, and to ask your advice and cooperation in acting upon it.

On the 9th of April a paymaster of the U.S.S. Dolphin landed at the Iturbide Bridge landing at Tampico with a whaleboat and boat’s crew to take off certain supplies needed by his ship, and while engaged in loading the boat was arrested by an officer and squad of men of the army of General Huerta. Neither the paymaster nor anyone of the boat’s crew was armed. Two of the men were in the boat when the arrest took place and were obliged to leave it and submit to be taken into custody, notwithstanding the fact that the boat carried, both at her bow and at her stern, the flag of the United States. The officer who made the arrest was proceeding up one of the streets of the town with his prisoners when met by an officer of higher authority, who ordered him to return to the landing and await orders; and within an hour and a half from the time of the arrest orders were received from the commander of the Huertista forces at Tampico for the release of the paymaster and his men. The release was followed by apologies from the commander and later by an expression of regret by General Huerta himself. General Huerta urged that martial law obtained at the time at Tampico; that orders had been issued that no one should be allowed to land at the Iturbide Bridge; and that our sailors had no right to land there. Our naval commanders at the port had not been notified of any such prohibition; and, even if they had been, the only justifiable course open to the local authorities would have been to request the paymaster and his crew to withdraw and to lodge a protest with the commanding officer of the fleet. Admiral Mayo regarded the arrest as so serious an affront that he was not satisfied with the apologies offered, but demanded that the flag of the United States be saluted with special ceremony by the military commander of the port.

The incident cannot be regarded as a trivial one, especially as two of the men arrested were taken from the boat itself—that is to say, from the territory of the United States—but had it stood by itself it might have been attributed to the ignorance or arrogance of a single officer. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated case. A series of incidents have recently occurred which cannot but create the impression that the representatives of General Huerta were willing to go out of their way to show disregard for the dignity and rights of this Government and felt perfectly safe in doing what they pleased, making free to show in many ways their irritation and contempt. A few days after the incident at Tampico an orderly from the U.S.S. Minnesota was arrested at Vera Cruz while ashore in uniform to obtain the ship’s mail, and was for a time thrown into jail. An official dispatch from this Government to its embassy at Mexico City was withheld by the authorities of the telegraphic service until peremptorily demanded by our charge d’affaires in person. So far as I can learn, such wrongs and annoyances have been suffered to occur only against representatives of the United States. I have heard of no complaints from other Governments of similar treatment. Subsequent explanations and formal apologies did not and could not alter the popular impression, which it is possible it had been the object of the Huertista authorities to create, that the Government of the United States was being singled out, and might be singled out with impunity, for slights and affronts in retaliation for its refusal to recognize the pretensions of General Huerta to be regarded as the constitutional provisional President of the Republic of Mexico.

The manifest danger of such a situation was that such offenses might grow from bad to worse until something happened of so gross and intolerable a sort as to lead directly and inevitably to armed conflict. It was necessary that the apologies of General Huerta and his representatives should go much further, that they should be such as to attract the attention of the whole population to their significance, and such as to impress upon General Huerta himself the necessity of seeing to it that no further occasion for explanations and professed regrets should arise. I, therefore, felt it my duty to sustain Admiral Mayo in the whole of his demand and to insist that the flag of the United States should be saluted in such a way as to indicate a new spirit and attitude on the part of the Huertistas.

Such a salute General Huerta has refused, and I have come to ask your approval and support in the course I now purpose to pursue.
This Government can, I earnestly hope, in no circumstances be forced into war with the people of Mexico. Mexico is torn by civil strife. If we are to accept the tests of its own constitution, it has no government. General Huerta has set his power up in the City of Mexico, such as it is, without right and by methods for which there can be no justification. Only part of the country is under his control. If armed conflict should unhappily come as a result of his attitude of personal resentment toward this Government, we should be fighting only General Huerta and those who adhere to him and give him their support, and our object would be only to restore to the people of the distracted Republic the opportunity to set up again their own laws and their own government.

But I earnestly hope that war is not now in question. I believe that I speak for the American people when I say that we do not desire to control in any degree the affairs of our sister Republic. Our feeling for the people of Mexico is one of deep and genuine friendship, and everything that we have so far done or refrained from doing has proceeded from our desire to help them, not to hinder or embarrass them. We would not wish even to exercise the good offices of friendship without their welcome and consent. The people of Mexico are entitled to settle their own domestic affairs in their own way, and we sincerely desire to respect their right. The present situation need have none of the grave implications of interference if we deal with it promptly, firmly, and wisely.

No doubt I could do what is necessary in the circumstances to enforce respect for our Government without recourse to the Congress, and yet not exceed my constitutional powers as President; but I do not wish to act in a matter possibly of so grave consequence except in close conference and cooperation with both the Senate and House. I, therefore, come to ask your approval that I should use the armed forces of the United States in such ways and to such an extent as may be necessary to obtain from General Huerta and his adherents the fullest recognition of the rights and dignity of the United States, even amidst the distressing conditions now unhappily obtaining in Mexico.

There can in what we do be no thought of aggression or of selfish aggrandizement. We seek to maintain the dignity and authority of the United States only because we wish always to keep our great influence unimpaired for the uses of liberty, both in the United States and wherever else it may be employed for the benefit of mankind.

Mexico Cuts Rate 1st time in 62 months on growth risks

This article was originally published on CentralBankNews.info on August 15, 2019. It is reproduced here with permission from the author.

Mexico’s central bank lowered its policy rate for the first time in 62 months, saying inflation has decreased as it expected but the economy continues to stagnate and uncertainty about the relationship with the United States continues to pose a risk to economic growth.

The Bank of Mexico (Banxico) cut its benchmark target for the overnight interbank interest rate by 25 basis points to 8.0 percent, its first rate cut since June 2014 following 15 rate hikes from December 2015 through December 2018 in response to a weakening peso and inflationary pressures.

But in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s change of course in late January this year to a more dovish stance, which resulted in a rate cut on July 31, Baxico also shifted its policy stance and is now following the Fed and 53 other central banks that have eased their policy stance this year.

Banxico said a majority of its board member had voted to cut the rate, deciding that a lower interest rate is consistent with inflation converging toward its target of 3.0 percent. One board member voted to maintain the rate.

The board added that it would maintain a prudent monetary policy stance during the current environment of uncertainty and closely follow the potential pass-through of fluctuations to the exchange rate to consumer prices along with the behavior of economic slack and price pressures.

Noting the deceleration in world economic activity along with U.S. trade disputes, the central bank said the balance of risks to the world economy had deteriorated, and while the peso has fluctuated, interest rates on government securities have fallen and the latest data suggest weaker demand has widened the economy’s slack more than expected so the balance of risks to economic growth remains biased to the downside.

In July Mexico’s inflation rate eased to 3.78 percent from 3.95 percent though inflation expectations remained relatively stable while the economy shrank 0.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter after growth of 1.2 percent in the first quarter.

This article was originally published on CentralBankNews.info on August 15, 2019. It is reproduced here with permission from the author.

June 8-9, 1981: Remarks during a Visit from President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico

On June 8-9, 1981, President Ronald Reagan hosted Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo at the White House. On June 8, Reagan and Lopez Portillo delivered the following remarks at the South Portico of the White House. Lopez Portillo spoke in Spanish and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

President Reagan. I warmly welcome President Lopez Portillo on behalf of the people of the United States. But I also want to convey my personal greetings because of my personal respect and affection. The relationship we’ve built as individuals is indicative of a new dimension that we are bringing to the friendship between our two countries.

Our planned meeting of 2 months ago, which I was looking forward to with great anticipation, was abruptly canceled. And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the consideration you’ve shown in visiting us here in Washington. You’ve done us a great honor in your visit to the White House.

You’ll recall, Mr. President, the last time we met was in the Museum of Art, part of Mexico’s rich cultural past — that was in Ciudad Juarez. We were surrounded there by magnificent pieces of art, part of Mexico’s rich cultural past. It was appropriate that we should meet in such a place, for art transcends time and material consideration.

The same is true of the friendship between the peoples of Mexico and the United States. In a world filled with neighbors who resort to violence, neighbors who’ve lost sight of the shared values and mutual interests, the good will between Mexico and the United States is a blossom whose beauty we meet here to cherish and protect.

God made Mexico and the United States neighbors, but it is our duty and the duty of generations yet to come to make sure that we remain friends. I welcome you today with the pledge that this administration will sincerely and diligently strive to maintain a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation between our two nations and that decisions which affect both sides of our border will be made only after the closest consultation between our governments. Our very proximity is an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how two nations, talking together as equals, as partners, as friends, can solve their problems and deepen their mutual respect.

Mr. President, you are a scholar, a man of art, and a political leader of a proud and independent nation. There are many items of importance on our agenda. I look forward to a far-reaching exchange of views that will cement the ties between us. The personal friendship that we’re developing must be equaled by the closeness between our two peoples.

President Lopez Portillo. Mr. President, under the sign of friendship which began in Ciudad Juarez, it is now for me a great pleasure to be here in the Capital City of your great country.

We are sorry that we did not meet in Tijuana as we had planned. But I am very happy that we are meeting now here at the White House, and it also pleases me enormously to see that you have totally recovered from the attempt that was brought on by absurd violence. I am very happy to see that you have enormous capacity of recovery. And in your good health and in your strength, I can see the good health and the strength of your nation.

There are few countries in the world that have so many items to deal with among themselves as the United States and Mexico. We’re not only neighbors, we are also the representatives of two worlds. Literally and geographically speaking, we represent the North and the South along 3,000 kilometers of border. Therefore, there are structural matters between us that have been shaped by our history and our geography.

We also represent the relationship between the developing world and the world that has already been developed. And we’re also immersed in a regional context that shapes our relationship. I come here now, sir, as a friend without any prejudice, to talk over these matters with you and to prove with my coming that there can be friendship among friends and that this friendship can have as its main pillar and basis the rule of reason.

In an absurd world, the reasonable thing to do can be the possible thing to do. And what is reasonable is based on respect and on the law. There are many problems that we have to deal with. We will be very happy to find our similarities. And when we do not have coinciding opinions — and it is very possible that in this world of plurality there may be times when we do not have coinciding opinions — then we will talk things over without arrogance.

Arrogance is a dangerous deviation of they who are in a weaker position. The other very dangerous aspect is submission. We will select the road of respect and the rule of reason without any submission and without any arrogance.

I believe that few times in our history has there been an opportunity for good understanding as there is today to understand each other well and to deepen and make headway in our relationship.

I feel, Mr. President, that you have great good will and a friendly feeling. I feel that you are a decent individual and an honest one. I shall make a great effort to respond to the kindnesses that you have with me.

We have established a friendship which no doubt will be both symbolic and solid. I am absolutely certain that we will [be] able to achieve what our two peoples and nations want of us. We want to be understood, and in turn, we want to understand. We want to respect, and we want to be respected. We want a solid relationship that will seek out the mutual interests of two countries that are neighbors and friends.

I am very certain, Mr. President, that if we go beyond rhetoric and prejudice, we shall be able to achieve our goals. And this will be for the good of both countries.

I thank you very much.

On June 9, Reagan and Portillo delivered the following toasts in the East Room at the White House.

President Reagan. President Lopez Portillo, some years ago when I was Governor of California, I was inspecting areas in our State which had been enormously damaged by one of those natural catastrophes that we sometimes see on the Pacific coast — great mudslides that can sweep away a man’s home in a matter of moments.

One of these belonged to an old gentleman from your country, who was standing in the middle of what, before the slide, had been his living room. We were both kneedeep in mud. It must have been heartbreaking for him, because his home had obviously been newly furnished. Now it was a scene of ruin. With quiet dignity and the utmost sincerity, he said, “Governor Reagan, mi casa es su casa” — my house is your house. I was deeply moved, and I realized that I was witness to what was purely and traditionally Hispanic — personal pride and courage in the face of adversity.

Today, Mr. President, the entire nation is happy to have you with us here in the White House. And since this house belongs to all of them, may I say on behalf of my fellow citizens, “Mi casa es su casa.”

From the moment of our meeting on the Friendship Bridge at Ciudad Juarez last January, I was certain that we would make our relationship more than symbolic, not only because our peoples expect certain cordiality between their leaders but because the leader of the Mexican people exemplifies so well the proud culture and heritage of his people. When you took that highly symbolic step across the boundary to grasp my hand, I knew that our future relationship would be that of personal friends.

Your concern and good wishes during my period of hospitalization were deeply appreciated. The Vice President told me of your concern for my health and of your most generous offer to travel to Washington for this meeting even though protocol called for me to visit you.

At our first meeting, you gave me a splendid example of your own artistry, drawings of horses etched on glass, drawn by you, that are now proudly displayed behind my desk in the Oval Office. And I value greatly the volumes on beautiful art of your country. But it would be difficult to match the gift that arrived at our ranch shortly before my Inauguration — El Alamain, a magnificent horse, your personal mount. Now, that was more than friendship; you took me into your family.

But I remember, too, that you presented me with a bound volume of a book that you wrote on Quetzalcoatl — almost had trouble there. [Laughter] It has much to say about your people. It also says much about the man who leads them today. I found especially relevant to your land the words of Quetzalcoatl to his newborn son: “You are made with the fibers of joy and sorrow, of laughter and tears. You are at the edge of all the possibilities and soon you will have the strength to choose. You will be the course and the measure of the richness and misery. You will be the eagle and the serpent. With your pain, you will maintain the conscience of the universe, with your laughter, the dignity of Man.”

Later in the book, Quetzalcoatl, perplexed by the problems of governing, said something we can both relate to: “Despite its regularity, this world is a confused sphere of arbitrary things.” The art of politics is sometimes frustrating, but there are other times of confidence and optimism, and your visit has been such a time.

I listened very carefully to you in our meetings, Mr. President, noting the content and the spirit with which you spoke. Your presence inspires confidence that we can calm any of the tensions that inevitably arise between two such close neighbors.

During your election campaign in 1976, you traveled through all 31 of Mexico’s states, spreading new hope. The message you brought to the Mexican people is something that can serve as a cornerstone for our relationship as well. If problems arise between us, we must always remember we are the solution. There is nothing that with mutual respect and honest communication we cannot work out together.

I look forward to our next meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in October. In saluting you today, I thank you for your generosity, but more, I thank you for the continued good will between our two peoples that your visit represents.

And so, I ask all of you to join me in a toast to Jose Lopez Portillo, the President of Mexico.

President Lopez Portillo. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, my friends:

I must confess that I am moved. I must confess that I have spoken in this same place three times before, and I have never done so as moved as I feel today.

It is true that I had always been sincere, but also cautious. I had always spoken frankly, but I have always measured the weight of each one of my words, because the relationship, for some reason or another, had always been a tense one. A relationship between neighbors that are so different are always difficult. It is difficult for the one side and for the other. But I confess for the first time now I have felt totally relaxed.

For the first time a President of the United States has used with me that very generous formula of “my home is your home.” And for we who understand the greatness and dignity that there is behind that expression, what I have heard from the President today has deeply moved me — as I can understand very well that he felt deeply moved also when he heard that old man that had no roof over his head and who was offering him his home, because a home is the environment of respect for the intimacy of the human being. And when one gives one’s intimacy in friendship, it is that that he is giving.

We understand this to be so, Mr. President, and we thank you for this. But I must also say that it has not only been the external behavior but also the substantive part of our relationship that has always been generous, kind, and affectionate.

If all the powerful people in the world were to truly understand what respect means to the weak people, the world would totally change. It is not only to give, not only to help; the most important thing of all is to respect. He who gives without respect is usually offensive. Very frequently I am reminded, and I remind others, that the first civic expression that we learn as children is the one that was said by one our great men and Presidents [Benito Juarez], the counterpart, so to speak, of Abraham Lincoln. He said, “Respect for the rights of others is peace.” The first word that we Mexicans learn in our civic behavior is the word “respect.” And this is the way, ladies and gentlemen, which we have been treated. We have been treated with respect and with friendship, and these are basic qualities to us.

On that basis, everything can be built. One can coincide, one can dissent; human beings are made in many and various different ways and shapes. And in our plurality, we should learn to coexist and to tolerate one another. Tolerance in itself is respect. And when a human relationship is built on respect, it is indestructible. We have spoken about many things. Fortunately, we have agreed on most of them. We have dissented on some. But with the greatest respect, we have agreed to talk about the matters on which we dissent in order to find appropriate solutions.

Intolerance has not come to cancel out opportunity, and that is very important for a good relationship between countries such as ours. It is important, because it is a representative sample of what is happening in the world — the relationship between the countries that have been able to develop and the developing nations. And in a geographic analogy, we could say that this is an expression of the North-South relationship.

We are the most significant relationship between the North and the South. That is why, Mr. President, I have felt so happy and so grateful that you have accepted our invitation to come to Cancun, because we do not only have concepts in mind, but we have direct experiences and reciprocal experiences. I am very certain that the special characteristics of our relationship, North-South relationship, that is, United States-Mexico, can be taken to generalization and that it will be useful, that it can be useful. And this is what we fervently wish — it can be useful for the rest of mankind.

We want appropriate communication so that political will can be expressed. And political will has been expressed here and now today in the United States as regards Mexico and with reference to Mexico as regards the United States within an environment of good will, peace, respect, and consideration for each other.

I believe, Mr. President, that in Cancun we can be a stimulating example to help and participate in the detente of this world which is so complex and at times so absurd, because if the disasters brought on by nature that create all these things for human beings are absurd in themselves — these disasters that leave old men without a roof over their heads but still with their dignity — nature, in that case, nature that has its own strength and will, cannot be controlled by us. But there is something that leaves man without a roof over his head and which is not nature — and I’m talking about passions, ambition, intolerance, violence — vices all of human will. And it is up to the will of the human being to correct these mistakes. Perhaps we can do nothing against nature, but we can do a great deal with our will if we’re talking about good will, and I do believe that good will is possible. And I believe that in Cancun, we shall have the opportunity to say that is possible and to confirm that we’re speaking the truth.

I would hope, Mr. President, that we will know how to lay bridges that will make it possible for all men and women in the world to say to each other, “My friends, this is your home.”

Thank you.

I would like to propose a toast to the health of President Reagan and his beautiful wife, to the friendship of Mexico and the United States. To your health.

On June 9, Reagan gave the following remarks at the North Portico of the White House on the departure of Lopez Portillo.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for being here.

I just want to express my appreciation for President Lopez Portillo’s changing his schedule and coming to Washington to accommodate us. The talks that we’ve had were frank, they were valuable, and they lead to a closer relationship between our two countries. In addition to that, I’m very proud, personally, to say that we have a warm and a close personal relationship between the two of us.

Our frank discussion revealed basic agreement on the need to strengthen the economies of the less developed nations, to bring about social and economic development of their peoples. We agreed that this was the best way to assure the region’s future stability, and we’ll be exchanging ideas on how best to bring about such development.

We agreed that the special nature of our relations required a special framework for doing business. We decided to form a bilateral Foreign Secretaries commission to assure integrated handling of matters of common concern. It will be cochaired by Secretary Haig and Secretary Castaneda. They will submit a report by December 31st, 1981.

Because trade problems are essentially and especially urgent, we also decided to set up immediately a Cabinet-level trade committee to recommend how to go about dealing with outstanding bilateral trade questions. The committee will be cochaired by the Mexican and United States Secretaries of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative. The committee will begin work as soon as possible. We also agreed to address outstanding fisheries problems on a similar urgent basis.

An important agreement providing for supply of substantial quantities of United States grain to Mexico during 1982 was signed by Secretary Block for the United States and Secretary de la Vega for Mexico. Attorney General Smith briefed the Mexican party in detail on the various options we’re now considering to deal with the undocumented migrant problem. And I assured the President that the United States would take Mexico’s interest in this problem fully into consideration, as well as the interests and rights of the individual migrants themselves.

I had the great pleasure of informing the President that the legislature has acted, the Congress has acted, and we are going forward with construction of the Otay Mesa additional border crossing to relieve the logjam that we have at the San Ysidro crossing there. It is badly needed on the California Baja border. And we agreed that it would be an important boost to tourism in both directions.

President Lopez Portillo formally invited me to participate in a meeting of heads of government, an international meeting to be held in Cancun, Mexico, in October, and I happily accepted that invitation. I look forward to the informal discussion of North-South questions which will occur at that meeting, as well as additional meetings that we have spoken of.

And now comes the — I shall present President Lopez Portillo for his farewell, but it is a sad moment now. We have had a fine, warm, friendly, and productive meeting.

The text of the three speeches comes from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum part of the United States National Archives and Records Administration. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

February 10, 1854: Message to Senate on Treaty with Mexico

President Franklin Pierce delivered the following speech on February 10, 1854.

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to ratification, a treaty between the United States and the Mexican Republic, signed by the plenipotentiaries of the parties in the City of Mexico on the 30th of December last. Certain amendments are proposed to the instrument, as hereinafter specified, viz:

In order to make the duties and obligations stipulated in the second article reciprocal, it is proposed to add to that article the following:

And the Government of Mexico agrees that the stipulations contained in this article to be performed by the United States shall be reciprocal, and Mexico shall be under like obligations to the United States and the citizens thereof as those hereinabove imposed on the latter in favor of the Republic of Mexico and Mexican citizens.

It is also recommended that for the third article of the original treaty the following shall be adopted as a substitute:

In consideration of the grants received by the United States and the obligations relinquished by the Mexican Republic pursuant to this treaty, the former agree to pay to the latter the sum of $15,000,000 in gold or silver coin at the Treasury at Washington, one-fifth of the amount on the exchange of ratifications of the present treaty at Washington and the remaining four-fifths in monthly installments of three millions each with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum until the whole be paid, the Government of the United States reserving the right to pay up the whole sum of fifteen millions at an earlier date, as may be to it convenient.

The United States also agree to assume all the claims of their citizens against the Mexican Republic which may have arisen under treaty or the law of nations since the date of the signature of the treaty of Guadalupe, and the Mexican Republic agrees to exonerate the United States of America from all claims of Mexico or Mexican citizens which may have arisen under treaty or the law of nations since the date of the treaty of Guadalupe, so that each Government, in the most formal and effective manner, shall be exempted and exonerated of all such obligations to each other respectively.

I also recommend that the eighth article be modified by striking out all after the word “attempts” in the twenty-third line of that article. The part to be omitted is as follows:

They mutually and especially obligate themselves, in all cases of such lawless enterprises which may not have been prevented through the civil authorities before formation, to aid with the naval and military forces, on due notice being given by the aggrieved party of the aggressions of the citizens and subjects of the other, so that the lawless adventurers may be pursued and overtaken on the high seas, their elements of war destroyed, and the deluded captives held responsible in their persons and meet with the merited retribution inflicted by the laws of nations against all such disturbers of the peace and happiness of contiguous and friendly powers. It being understood that in all cases of successful pursuit and capture the delinquents so captured shall be judged and punished by the government of that nation to which the vessel capturing them may belong, conformably to the laws of each nation.

At the close of the instrument it will also be advisable to substitute “seventy-eighth” for “seventy-seventh” year of the Independence of the United States.

Mexico Can’t Solve Its Three Biggest Crises Alone

This article was written by Shannon K. O’Neil and was published by the Council on Foreign Relations on July 10, 2019. It is reproduced here under CC BY-NC 4.0.

A flood of people, a rise in murders, a dearth of energy. Three big crises face Mexico today. How it resolves these challenges will reverberate far beyond its borders. The U.S., which has played a part in creating some of these problems, should be part of their solution.

Migration is the crisis with the highest profile. Hundreds of thousands of Central Americans have passed through Mexico in the last five years, joined by Cubans, Haitians, Indians, Africans from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo and others in a trek to the southern U.S. border. The previous administration of Enrique Pena Nieto deported 600,000 of these sojourners. Yet still more come. And not all continue, with Mexico absorbing tens of thousands who stop and stay.

The promise of a better life in the U.S., family ties, and asylum rules draw Central Americans and others to the U.S.-Mexico border. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador accelerated the exodus with his initial migration plans. His offer of humanitarian visas triggered a 12,000-person stampede, forcing him to rescind the invitation. He cut the budgets of the two main Mexican migration agencies, leaving bureaucrats who were already overwhelmed even less able to meet the growing influx.

He then appeased President Donald Trump’s hardball demands. To stave off tariffs that Trump threatened to impose unless Lopez Obrador cracked down on transiting migrants, he dispatched 6,000 National Guard and military personnel to set up roadblocks, raid hotels and man the border. He also agreed to keep tens if not hundreds of thousands of migrants in Mexico as the U.S. slowly processes their asylum claims.

Migrants already overwhelm local shelters, churches and parks in Tijuana. Close to 500 migrants are being returned each day to Ciudad Juarez, a city with just 1,500 shelter beds, and in the not too distant past rated the world’s most dangerous. As the U.S. expands its Migrant Protection Protocols, a policy described by the shorthand “Remain in Mexico,” to other border cities, none are prepared to house, clothe, feed, educate or care for those to come.

Mexico’s federal government isn’t stepping in to relieve these local burdens. Instead, Lopez Obrador’s decision to end public funding for nongovernmental organizations leaves migrant shelters, soup kitchens, and human rights defenders even more on their own.

Violence, too, buffets Mexico. Last year was the deadliest on record. Under Lopez Obrador, homicides continue to climb. Crime is spreading from cartel strongholds of Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Michoacan to the manufacturing heartlands of Guanajuato and Jalisco, and to the capital city.

U.S. drug demand fuels a part of it and U.S. guns make it all the more deadly. But it is Mexico’s weak rule of law that enables crime. And here Lopez Obrador’s steps to bring safety and security have been slow at best, and counterproductive at worst.

Scratching the federal police and defunding community policing, Lopez Obrador is doubling down on a new national guard that will take years to stand up. He is pulling military and security forces away from the fight against crime to go after immigrant women and children. Without effective local and national forces focused on security, Mexico won’t become safer.

Worse, his efforts at justice reform are tearing down incipient efforts to improve the rule of law. He’s on his way to destroying the National Anti-corruption System, a hard-fought civil society effort to take on rampant graft. His party has floated packing the Supreme Court, ending its independence. He himself has said that “justice” (presumably as he defines it) matters more than enforcing the law. This personalizing and politicizing of the third branch of government amount to impunity, and will continue to enable crime.

Meanwhile, Mexico is having a hard time generating electricity.  Blackouts are silencing the air conditioning in Cancun’s hotels, dimming the lights in Campeche’s hospitals, repeatedly pitching whole swaths of Yucatan and Veracruz into darkness.

The government blames the failures on undergrowth fires, old power plants, and even the public comments of the independent Regulatory Energy Commission. The real reason? Mexico lacks gas.

Natural gas powers more than half of Mexico’s energy use and even more of its electricity. Two-thirds of this comes from abroad. And starting in December, the new government slashed imports.

To be sure, Mexico has suffered gas shortages in the past. A decade ago Monterrey’s factories would periodically slow or even close when electricity grew scarce. Mexico solved this with pipelines, new Texas-Mexico connections boosting gas flows nearly five-fold. Liquefied natural gas imports from the U.S. also rose dramatically.

Lopez Obrador has tasked Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned energy company, with ending the current shortages. Yet its gas production is half what it was a decade ago, and on the decline. Given Pemex’s mix of diminished technical capacity, corruption, ideology and downright stubbornness, this trend is unlikely to change soon.

Pemex has seen thousands of skilled employees leave since December due to firings and salary cuts. Rising debt and aggressive new expenditures, including an $8 billion refinery, leave Pemex no room to boost gas investment. And the government is scaring away outside investors by attacking private contracts—most recently, Canadian pipeline providersaccused of finagling “unfair” terms. Lopez Obrador’s stance against fracking makes this all the worse, effectively shutting off half of Mexico’s gas potential.

The U.S. could help Mexico deal with these challenges. In migration, it could start by being a better neighbor and stop asking Mexico to tackle a joint problem alone. The U.S. could fix its asylum process, and surge judges rather than security forces to the border. And it could give Mexico money to support the influx of people, emulating the billions that Europe has provided to Niger and Turkey to house Syrians.

For security, the U.S. and Mexico already have a vehicle for cooperation: the Merida Initiative. Though both presidents are quick to dismiss the security program, the hundreds of millions a year spent over the last decade have bolstered the rule of law in Mexico. Shared intelligence has brought down crime networks. U.S.-funded programs have trained lawyers, judges and police officers in the rules of Mexico’s new justice system. And new police academies have professionalized local forces and introduced community policing tactics to take on everyday local crimes. 

U.S. supplies are the only immediate and cost-effective way out of Mexico’s current electricity quandary. If Lopez Obrador and his administration were open to the idea, Texas is a source of exceptional and cheap bounty.

Helping Mexico to face these challenges isn’t about beneficence. What happens there matters for U.S. companies that count Mexico as one of their largest export markets. It doubly matters for Texas, as Mexico is its largest trading partner and outside energy buyer. It matters for the border, as a downturn to the south is sure to send more Mexicans alongside Central Americans north. And it matters for security, as criminal organizations span the border and endanger people on both sides.

The U.S. needs Mexico not to falter. Even better would be for Lopez Obrador to succeed. A growing, prosperous and inclusive Mexico also promises huge benefits for its northern neighbor. Perhaps the biggest challenge now is to get both leaders to recognize this reality.

This article was written by Shannon K. O’Neiland was published by the Council on Foreign Relations on July 10, 2019. It is reproduced here under CC BY-NC 4.0.

President Trump Backs Down From Tariff Threat After US and Mexico Reach Agreement

The United States and Mexico appear to have reached an agreement on the current immigration crisis which will avert the harsh and draconian tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to levy on all Mexican imports.

President Trump announced the agreement in two tweets:

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to … stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”

In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. “The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure,” said Secretary Pompeo.

Minister Ebrard appeared to be pleased with the agreement. In a tweet, he thanked Secretary Pompeo “for his valuable participation in achieving today’s agreement with the US.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also voiced his support for the arrangement in a tweet.

In a media note from the Department of State, the US and Mexican governments agreed to “work together to immediately implement a durable solution” and to crack down on “irregular migration” in their countries.

Mexico agreed to beef up immigration enforcement. Under the agreement, the National Guard will be deployed Mexico’s southern border and throughout the country. Mexico also agreed to allow the US to send immigrants claiming asylum back to Mexico while their asylum case is being adjudicated in the US and to provide migrants with jobs, healthcare, and education. For its part, the United States agreed to speed up the adjudication process for asylum claims.

United States committed to expand the practice of returning migrants seeking asylum at the southern border to Mexico while their asylum case works its way through the courts.

Both countries also agreed to continue to cooperate on security concerns along their shared border and to address the underlying issues driving migrants to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

While the tariff threat appears to be lifted for now, the agreement leaves much to be desired. The White House has not specified if it will require additional appropriation from Congress to increase border security to implement the new agreement or if everything can be accomplished under current allocated funding.

Additionally, the process of sending migrants who crossed into the United States to claim asylum back to Mexico, known as Migrant Protection Protocols, may violate several laws. According to the Washington Post, federal judge blocked the controversial policy in April noting that it probably violated the Immigration Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Furthermore, President Trump may decide to use this tactic of essentially extorting Mexico to change its domestic policy by threatening massive and indiscriminate tariffs in the future if Mexico is unable to sufficiently stop the flow of migrants coming from Central America.

So while the immediate issue may have been resolved, the underlining problem President Trump’s willingness to break norms and use threats of a trade war continues to undermine the relationship between the Mexico and the United States.