MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that he will not respond if US counterpart Donald Trump makes negative comments about Mexico in pursuit of re-election in 2020.
“If for electoral reasons he wants to involve us – from now on I anticipate it – we will not respond to anything that’s brought up within the process of domestic politics and for electoral purposes, in the United States or in any other country,” said the Mexican leader at his morning press conference.
Lopez Obrador was questioned ahead of Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, which is expected to focus largely on the immigration situation on the Mexican border, where large numbers of Central Americans are gathered in hopes of obtaining asylum in the United States.
The billionaire in the White House is demanding that Congress provides funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Lopez Obrador insisted that Mexico will maintain its commitment to development cooperation to ensure that migration in the region is optional and not forced.
“We have received respectful treatment from President Donald Trump,” he said.
Though Trump launched his first presidential campaign with harsh words about “rapists” and other undesirables entering the US from Mexico, so far he has made no derogatory public statements about Lopez Obrador, who was elected July 1 and took office Dec. 1.
Speaking more broadly, Lopez Obrador suggested “in a fraternal and respectful manner” that US presidential terms should be extended beyond the current four years.
“Politics means time and I believe that a period of four years, even if re-election is allowed, is not the best, because you win your first term and, since re-election comes so soon, there’s not enough stability,” he said.
With a longer presidential term, he said, public administration and the electoral process are not mixed together as during the four-year term.
“It’s assumed that the government represents everyone, that the government is one thing and the (political) party is another, and this must be understood as it is,” the president said.
Mexico’s head of state serves a single six-year term and until recently, presidents have generally abstained from active politicking on behalf of their respective parties or political allies while in office.