Mexico reviews cooperation with U.S. over 'blatant' tension
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Mexico said Monday, April 9, it is reviewing its cooperation with the United States over "blatant" tension with Donald Trump's administration following his decision to deploy the National Guard to the border.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has ordered all federal government departments to re-evaluate bilateral cooperation, his office said – a review Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said was a direct response to recent tension.
Trump has stoked anger in Mexico by ordering thousands of National Guard troops to the border and attacking the Mexican government on Twitter over its supposed failure to stop an influx of drugs and undocumented migrants into the United States.
Videgaray said the areas under review would include the vital issues of trade and security, among them the two countries' extensive cooperation to fight international drug trafficking.
"Given the current climate and the very public and blatant differences we currently have with the government of the United States, President Enrique Peña Nieto will be making decisions," Videgaray told Mexican radio network Formula.
He said the president had not yet decided to suspend or reduce cooperation in any area. But he left the possibility open, with a veiled warning to Trump.
"We are entering an evaluation phase, and it must be an ongoing evaluation of the facts as they stand," he said.
"Trump's rhetoric and tone... do matter, they do affect the relationship, and we can't remain immobile forever."
The latest rise in US-Mexican tension began with days of angry tweets from Trump over a caravan of more than 1,000 Central American migrants crossing Mexico toward the United States.
A visibly offended Peña Nieto gave a national address Thursday, April 5, after Trump announced his decision to deploy the National Guard to the border, warning his American counterpart that "threatening attitudes and a lack of respect" were out of line.
Mexico also summoned US Ambassador Roberta Jacobson over Trump's contested comment that women in the caravan were being "raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before." She is due to meet with Mexican officials Tuesday, April 10.
Trump also threatened to axe what he called Mexico's "cash cow," the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), over the caravan.
Last year, Washington triggered a renegotiation of that deal, which also includes Canada, after Trump called it a "disaster" for the United States.
Those negotiations are ongoing. Despite the spike in tension, Trump said a new deal was "fairly close," while Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said there was an 80% chance of reaching a preliminary agreement by the first week in May.
Relations between the two countries have been tense since Trump won election in 2016 with a campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and promises to build a border wall.
Peña Nieto has twice canceled plans to visit Washington over Trump's insistence that Mexico pay for the wall.
'Toys, not guns'
Some 20 busloads of migrants from the caravan meanwhile arrived in Mexico City.
Carrying their meager belongings in plastic bags, some 600 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua arrived at a shelter and then went to pray at the nearby shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint.
Organizers of the migrant caravan announced last week the group would no longer try to travel to the US border en masse.
The caravan – a yearly event that activists say is mainly about raising awareness of the perils migrants face, not crossing the border – will end its activities this week with a series of rallies and meetings in the Mexican capital.
Mexican authorities are granting the migrants temporary visas to either apply for refugee status in Mexico or leave the country – whether for the United States or elsewhere.
Traveling with his wife and 4 children, his eyes red from exhaustion, 41-year-old migrant Ignacio Viatorio questioned Trump's troop deployment.
"No one here is armed. All we've got are toys," he said.
Arizona deployed its first 225 National Guard members to the Mexican border, joining Texas, which announced Friday, April 6 it was moving 250 troops to the border along with aircraft, vehicles and equipment.
The Pentagon has ordered the deployment of up to 4,000 National Guard members to the border. – Rappler.com