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Politics Mum's the word: Mexico's López Obrador still hasn't congratulated Joe Biden on his win

22:40  09 december  2020
22:40  09 december  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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On November 13, China congratulated Joe Biden on his victory nearly a week after he was The right- wing president had said he would be the first leader in the world to congratulate Donald Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador . Lopez Obrador has said he was bound by the

China has finally congratulated Joe Biden on his projected win in the US presidential election, breaking a frosty period of silence. Four years ago, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory, but there has been no tweet, telegram or

EL PASO, Texas — There's been no red carpet rolled out, no neighborly welcome, not even a nod on social media.

A month after the U.S. election, Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hasn't publicly congratulated President-elect Joe Biden. His silence has raised concerns in Mexico and the Borderland about the future of the two neighbors' relationship, the tone of which can influence trade, immigration, security and drug enforcement.

An official with the Biden transition team told the El Paso Times in an email that the President-elect "looks forward to a warm and constructive relationship with his Mexican counterpart," given that "the scale of the shared challenges we face require deep and concerted cooperation."

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As world leaders hastened to congratulate Joe Biden , Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has not congratulated U. S That right- wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro didn’ t jump on the Biden bandwagon was not surprising

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Citing unnamed sources in Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations, the Reuters news agency reported Tuesday that López Obrador would extend congratulations after the Electoral College votes on Dec. 14.

Still, the Mexican leader's silence has puzzled foreign policy experts and disappointed those who want to see a return to increased cooperation between the two nations on key issues.

That includes the implementation of labor and environmental provisions of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, including Mexico's enforcement of the rights of Mexican factory workers to unionize. It also includes a return to bilateral cooperation on humanitarian methods of curbing migration, as well as renewed attention to the simmering drug war in Mexican border cities.

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López Obrador , 64, became Mexico ’ s first leftist president in decades on Sunday following a landslide victory over ruling PRI party candidate Jose Antonio Meade. The left- wing populist embraced a “ Mexico first” stance against President Trump during the campaign — and even went so far as to call

Leaders around the world have offered their congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede his election loss.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador et al. sitting in front of a crowd: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks at an event with more than 500 business leaders Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at a maquiladora assembly factory in Juárez. © BRIANA SANCHEZ/EL PASO TIMES Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks at an event with more than 500 business leaders Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at a maquiladora assembly factory in Juárez.

In Juárez alone, nearly 1,500 people have been murdered this year, according to the Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office.

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The future ability of families to legally cross the border also hangs in the balance as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The two countries lack a binational strategy to reopen U.S. border crossings, including those linking El Paso and Juárez, that have been closed to non-essential traffic and most Mexican nationals since March.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) characterized López Obrador's silence as "extremely disappointing and disrespectful to the will of the American people."

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World leaders were quick to offer Joe Biden and Kamala Harris their congratulations —and use the occasion to mend fences and reset frayed diplomatic relations.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday again declined to congratulate Joe Biden for winning the U. S Speaking shortly after China' s President Xi Jinping congratulated Biden for his victory, Lopez Obrador reiterated that it would be wrong to offer

“While President-elect Biden has held multiple calls with foreign leaders, Mexico — our No. 1 trading partner — is wasting an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the U.S. and work closely with the Biden-Harris administration to address our common challenges, including the public health and humanitarian crises that have deeply impacted our border region.”

President Donald Trump continues to allege, without evidence, that the election was somehow stolen from him. Trump's lawsuits alleging election fraud have been tossed out in several key states, although he continues to mount challenges to results.

At the same time, in late November, the Trump administration set in motion the formal transition process, giving the Biden team access to federal funds and services — an important step toward an orderly transition of power.

That hasn't stopped some authoritarian leaders from sticking with their man in Washington. Trump has been friendlier to, and more forgiving of, strongman regimes than recent past U.S. presidents.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump called Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's case to overturn the election results in four battleground states © Evan Vucci, AP President Donald Trump called Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's case to overturn the election results in four battleground states "the big one" Wednesday.

López Obrador joins Russia's Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — who has been called the "Trump of the Tropics" — in waiting to recognize Biden's win.

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"He is in strange company," said Shannon O'Neil, a senior fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And it is also quite odd, especially for a Mexican president, to join that company and remain aloof. Leaving Russia and Brazil aside, almost every other country responded within a couple of days."

China was also an outlier. The country's foreign ministry waited five days to congratulate Biden, extending recognition of the president-elect on Nov. 13 through a spokesman. President Xi Jinping personally congratulated Biden on Nov. 25.

Beginning during his 2016 campaign and running through the first two years of his presidency, Trump engaged in relentless Mexico-bashing that many expected would sour the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

Few expected López Obrador, elected in July 2018, to openly embrace Trump and his hard-line border policies after all the dirt thrown. But that's just what happened.

At heart, the two men are nationalists more concerned with domestic business than foreign affairs, experts say.

"I think we need to understand that AMLO has an uncommon worldview," said Duncan Wood, director of the nonpartisan Wilson Center's Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C. "He is much more focused on what happens internally than what happens in the United States. He wants the world to know he isn’t beholden to the United States."

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Wood added that López Obrador is also "incredibly stubborn" and, "having made the decision not to congratulate Biden until it was official, that’s when it will happen. Right on cue, he will congratulate Biden" after the Electoral College vote.

Some experts have said that the Mexican president's silence was calculated to keep relations smooth with the current administration, given Trump's inclination to use Mexico and the border as a political piñata.

The Mexican president is relying on the country's historic non-interventionist doctrine, as well, said Jesus Peña Muñoz, a social and political sciences professor at the university Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Juárez.

"It's not that he is worried that Trump won't leave the White House, but Trump is going to delay the usual process," Peña Muñoz said. "I think López Obrador is being extremely cautious."

Lauren Villagran can be reached at lvillagran@elpasotimes.com.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Mum's the word: Mexico's López Obrador still hasn't congratulated Joe Biden on his win

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