López Obrador is an unfiltered politician who has managed for decades with impunity. He thought he could do it with the United States under Biden, a huge mistake.
Once again, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke with US Vice President Kamala Harris, apparently putting the bilateral relationship back on track. This, even more than the content of the conversation itself, is the most relevant of what happened this Monday afternoon because in recent weeks the relationship had entered a period of enormous turbulence due to a couple of statements by López Obrador that They jeopardized the volatile balance that has been lived with Washington since the clash with the Donald Trump government over the arrest of the former Secretary of Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos, which generated the first serious fissures between the two countries in years.
López Obrador brought the bilateral relationship to the point of a near derailment, having pushed the Biden administration to the limit, which had maintained a strategy of non-confrontation with López Obrador, without falling for his provocations, as some of his actions are interpreted, such as the repeated assertion that they are intervening in Mexican internal affairs. However, tolerance came to an end after the statements of the Mexican President on Cuba and the Organization of American States.
AMLO is an unfiltered politician who has handled himself for decades with impunity, and he thought he could do it with the United States under the Biden government, assuming that, as he has high popular approval, the head of the White House does not dare to do anything. Huge mistake. The fact that they were publicly careful and chose not to exert pressure, enduring their criticism and lies, had nothing to do with their approval, but to avoid their radicalization.
That happened in the first half of July when López Obrador said that the social protests in the streets of a good number of cities in Cuba were the product of foreign intervention and media manipulation, accusing, without directly mentioning, but suggesting it in his words, to the United States government. Washington’s reaction quickly reached the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and its head, Marcelo Ebrard, informed the President that these statements had generated unease in the United States, where they were reserving a strong response against Mexico.
López Obrador was upset with Ebrard, claiming that he was not doing his job and not limiting the interference of the United States embassy in Mexican internal affairs. That first message was completely ignored by the President, who about 10 days later lashed out again when he proposed the replacement of the Organization of American States by a body that was not “nobody’s lackey,” once again accusing Washington of having subordinate to that Pan-American institution.
The answer came in a more forceful, decisive, and threatening way. The State Department surprised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for those statements by López Obrador and directly warned the Foreign Ministry that if the Mexican President continued with that line of hostility to the United States, they would stop all the support that they give their government, including anti-Covid vaccines.
Hearing this, López Obrador paid attention and decided that he would not speak again on the subject of American interventionism, not in the morning, or in any other forum. The President has not spoken about the “interventionism” of the United States in Mexico or Latin America since then, taking care of the forms and trying to avoid reaching direct confrontation.
The impunity with which it was handled had a strong halt. The message did not have to be made by the White House, but by the institutional conduit, the State Department, but with the understanding that the annoyance of the US Chancellery responded to anger in the Oval Office and in the areas that feed information to Biden. The perception that they have in Washington of López Obrador is quite negative and has had to be qualified by the diplomats in the embassy of that country in Mexico.
After the threat, López Obrador repeated on several occasions that the relationship with the United States government was very good, thus sending a message of peace to Washington. In the United States government, they registered it and the meeting with Harris is a sign that they do not want a clash, but that they are not willing for López Obrador to insist on his accusations and provocations. How long the Mexican President’s self-control will last is a mystery, since it fundamentally depends on his state of mind, which is the variable of uncertainty that he provokes in locals and strangers every morning, or that his external advisers whisper in his ear.
If López Obrador turns to Biden, he has to fulfill what he promised in exchange for vaccines. The failure that the President has had in the commitment made to stop migration is what he will have to adjust because it is overwhelmed. In June, according to official data, migration grew in numbers that had not been seen in this entire millennium, reflecting the relaxation in surveillance committed by López Obrador. If you want them to continue giving them, in addition to stopping their bravado, you will have to fulfill what you guaranteed them.
López Obrador will continue to ask the United States for help, but now he knows that someone who repeatedly throws a life preserver at his hand cannot bite his hand all the time. The ideas of its external advisers and the need to satisfy the most radical sectors of its environment cannot be executed thinking that it can fall into two trenches that are politically and ideologically antagonistic. With the cards on the table, the final decision and the consequences are yours, with the understanding that, in real politics, naivety and improvisation are unforgivable.