Mexicans are considered Americans

Mexico and the USA: two partners who distrust each other

The relationship between Mexico and the USA will not be easy in the future either. When it comes to migration policy, Biden is expected to have a softer tone, but the Democrat will also want to prevent another mass rush at the border. Cooperation in the fight against organized crime will become more complicated in the future. Adjusting a security law on the part of Mexico will not help.

He did it after all. Six weeks after the American presidential election, Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador congratulated Joe Biden on his victory on Monday. While top politicians from all over the world had sent congratulations to the Democrat weeks ago, Mexico's president remained silent. He wanted to wait for the official result of the election, he said and asserted that this did not mean to be against or for someone. Precisely because the relationship with its large neighbor, Mexico's most important trading partner, is so important for the Aztec country, López Obrador's reluctance was met with widespread incomprehension.

Softer tones in terms of migration policy

Amlo, as Mexico's president is called, finally congratulated Biden on his victory by letter, after the American electors' committee had confirmed it on Monday. In the two-page letter, he thanked Biden for his positive attitude towards Mexican migrants and for his willingness to promote development in southern Mexico and Central America in order to curb emigration. Amlo brought up one of the most important issues for Mexico and Central America in relation to the USA: migration policy.

Poverty, a lack of prospects, corruption and the violence of criminal gangs have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans leaving their homes in order to reach the USA via Mexico. When López Obrador took office at the end of 2018, he had promised to use a humanitarian approach to dealing with migrants and to stimulate regional economic growth in order to combat the root causes of emigration. In spring 2019, he and the United Nations Economic Commission presented a plan that provided the US to invest billions of dollars in the northern triangle of Central America.

Trump showed little interest in it. On the contrary: he cut financial aid for the region and stuck to his hard-handed strategy. He launched the “Stay in Mexico” program, which forces asylum seekers to wait in the Aztec country for the decision of the American authorities. Tens of thousands of refugees subsequently stranded on the Mexican border. In spring 2019, Trump also threatened punitive tariffs of five percent on all goods imports if Mexico stopped doing border security. Amlo buckled, militarized the southern border and since then has been increasingly pushing Central Americans back to their home countries.

Biden has promised to reverse the migration policy of his predecessor. Not only the construction of the wall should be stopped, but also the return program of asylum seekers to Mexico. Biden also wants to provide Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with four billion dollars over his four-year term and oblige their governments to invest their own resources to fight poverty and corruption. This approach coincides with the one that Amlo once suggested. However, at least in the short term, it will not stop emigration.

Despite the conciliatory tone, Biden will also want to avoid another mass rush on the Mexican-American border. The easing of admission conditions for Central Americans, which would probably create such a situation, is therefore hardly to be expected. For the same reason it can be assumed that the pressure of the USA on Mexico to maintain the militarization of its southern border will continue under Biden.

Adjustments in the security law

Cooperation between neighboring countries on security issues is becoming more difficult. But that has nothing to do with Biden directly, but with the current tensions that have built up after the US arrested Mexico's former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles in October and charged him with drug smuggling. Mexico perceived it as a breach of trust that the US had acted against the general without informing the Aztec country. The government then demanded the transfer of Cienfuegos to Mexico.

In an unprecedented move, the American judiciary finally dropped the charges against the former Secretary of Defense in November and returned him to his homeland as a free man. There are now investigations against him.

The Aztec country responded to the incident with amendments to a security law that tightened law enforcement practice for foreign officials. Foreign agents working in Mexico are now required to share all information they have collected with the Mexican authorities. The new rules are primarily aimed at DEA agents who have been stationed in Mexico for decades to fight drug trafficking. However, their role is controversial. According to the Mexican security forces, the DEA often does not pass on information.

Risky exchange of sensitive information

Mexico's security forces are considered corrupt. As the unilateral action taken by the Americans in the Cienfuegos case shows, the exchange of sensitive information appears to be viewed as a risk. There are concerns that Mexican authorities will share the information with the drug cartels. The relationship between the two countries is characterized by mutual distrust in the security area. This proves Mexico's latest legislative amendment. It will anything but facilitate future cooperation - regardless of who is in power in the United States.