TIJUANA, Mexico – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated on Saturday the deal reached with the United States that suspended tariffs that US President Donald Trump had threatened to impose on Mexican imports, but warned him that the agreements must be met.
In the border city of Tijuana, Lopez Obrador presided over an “Act of unity in defense of Mexico’s dignity and in the support of friendship with the people of the United States,” that was held in a much more conciliatory tone than expected after his and the US government signed a deal at the last minute on Friday night.
“I do not raise a closed fist, but a frank and open hand. We reiterate the willingness of friendship, dialogue and collaboration,” said Lopez Obrador, surrounded by prominent members of the government, most of the nation’s 32 state governors and representatives of Congress.
The president said that Friday’s deal showed that “politics had won over confrontation” and pointed out that Trump had shown a “willingness to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict.”
But he also warned that “the commitments must be fulfilled” and said the US government must respect the human rights of the migrants and support a development plan for Central America if Mexico does reinforces its borders with Guatemala, as per their agreement.
Obrador also stood firm in rejecting the suggestion that Mexico could be saddled with tariffs in future.
“As the representative of Mexico, I cannot allow anyone to attack the economy of our country,” he said, calling himself a “pacifist” follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
Last week, Trump had announced that, starting June 10, tariffs of five percent would be imposed on imports from Mexico, a duty that would rise gradually each month up to 25 percent in October if the Mexican president was unable to slow the rate of migration at the border between the US and Mexico.
As part of the deal, Mexico agreed to send 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala, a crossing point for thousands of Central American migrants heading for the US.
Lopez Obrador announced that next week his government would provide “humanitarian aid” for the migrants, as well as from assistance in employment, health and education.
He also outlined his plan, to which Washington has also agreed, to develop the economies of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help end forced migration.
The president pointed out that, as 43,000 children travel alone to reach Mexico, this humanitarian situation cannot be addressed with “coercive measures.”
“It will always be unfair to punish Mexico for proposing an end to the migration through welfare and security,” he said.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who led the delegation that negotiated with the US, said that “we did not win everything,” but said that “there are no tariffs on Monday.”
Nearly 900,000 Mexicans could have lost their jobs had the tariffs been imposed.
He said that the US government committed to respect the human rights of migrants and to support Lopez Obrador’s development plan for Central America.
“As I told you today when I gave my report: there are no tariffs, Mr. President, and we emerged with our dignity intact,” Ebrard said.
President of the Business Coordinating Council, Carlos Salazar along with migrants human rights activists, representative of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and a spokesperson of the evangelical community were also present.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution rejected the event and lashed out against the agreement, considering that the Mexican government gave up under the demand of militarizing the border with Guatemala.