To praise a tyrant is to insult a people. López Obrador’s proposed visit to Washington is an insult to the American people, and especially to the 37 million Mexican migrants who live in the United States.
The purpose of the state visit with Donald Trump on July 8 is to celebrate the entry into force of the Mexico-United States-Canada Treaty (T-MEC) on July 1. It comes at the worst possible time.
First, AMLO is traveling to the United States at the height of the pandemic in both countries. In the U.S., a new outbreak concentrated in the southern states has secured its position as the world leader in deaths from COVID-19, largely attributed to the lack of measures and strategies by the federal government and the disregard for scientific knowledge that President Trump and his supporters publicly express.
As well as the obvious hypocrisy in making a non-essential trip to the US when most of the population is prohibited from traveling in order to control the pandemic, AMLO said he’s going to thank Trump “for his gesture of support and solidarity” by selling — not donating. – ventilators to Mexico to treat COVID-19 patients. Congratulating Trump on anything related to his attitude toward the pandemic is inconceivable now: in addition to recommending potentially lethal treatments, the US president delayed the response to the virus, dismissed and disregarded the recommendations of his own experts, pulled the country out of the World Health Organization, has sought to profit from the tragedy and promoted the reopening that led to the current crisis. In this disaster, recent studies show that the Latino population is dying from COVID-19 at a rate twice that of the white population, while many migrants are unable to access health services and are excluded from rescue support.
If the health context is serious, the political context is even more serious. The main purpose of López Obrador’s first trip abroad, his first since taking office a year and a half ago, is to display the good relationship he has with Donald Trump. Appeasement has always been AMLO’s strategy, ignoring Trump’s racist, authoritarian and often illegal actions, and accommodating aggressions against Mexico and the cruel treatment of the migrant community. Now he plans to pat Trump on the back at a critical moment for Trump’s reelection campaign. With only four months to go until the presidential elections, everything Trump does is thought out in electoral terms. He’s losing in the polls. Trump needs at least part of the Latino vote, and the praise of the Mexican president will serve to dress him up as a statesman and friend of Mexico, despite the constant attacks.
The Mexican president’s show of political support for Donald Trump will also come at a time of massive protests in the United States against racism, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. This movement is profoundly radical – anti-capitalist, feminist and pro-human rights–the antithesis of Trump-ism. With broad support from many sectors of U.S. society that are fed up with a repressive government of the 1%, the movement has made remarkable progress in defending human life and proposing new visions for society.
Amid multiple crises and Trump’s attempts to turn back the fight for social justice, BLM offers an unprecedented path for change in the United States. In the context of the pandemic and the revolt, people are building networks of mutual support, learning new ways of living together, dreaming hew societies, and strengthening ties across barriers and borders. Migrant organizations not only support their fight, they share it. Community and national grassroots organizations are giving the world lessons in building popular movements and making social change in favor of the poor.
Mexico should be learning from them, rather than kowtowing to Trump–the protesters are Mexico’s real allies. A visit by the Mexican president to polish Trump’s image and ingratiate himself with the corrupt investor world he represents, is a betrayal of the migrant community in the United States, of the growing movement for justice and of the principles for which millions of the kind of nation Lopez Obrador said he would build, exactly two years ago.