The U.S.-Mexico relationship — a straightforward tradeoff during the Trump administration, with Mexico tamping down on migration and the U.S. not pressing on other issues — has become a wide range of disagreements over trade, foreign policy, energy and climate change.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is to visit Washington on Tuesday to meet with President Joe Biden, a month after López Obrador snubbed Biden’s invitation to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. Mexico’s leader had demanded that Biden invite to the summit the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela — all countries with anti-democratic regimes — and he has also called U.S. support for Ukraine “a crass error.”
On that, and other issues, it’s clear López Obrador is getting along much worse with Biden than with Donald Trump, who threatened Mexico, but wanted only one thing from his southern neighbor: stop migrants from reaching the border.
“I think it is more that the Biden administration has tried hard to re-institutionalize the relationship and restore the relationship that’s not centered solely on immigration and trade. And I think as a result that leads to issues coming up that AMLO is less comfortable talking about,” Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, said, using the Spanish acronym by which Mexicans refer to the president.
U.S. officials want López Obrador to retreat on his reliance on fossil fuels and his campaign to favor Mexico’s state-owned electricity utility at the expense of foreign-built plants powered by gas and renewable energy. Washington has filed several complaints under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement pushing Mexico to enforce environmental laws and rules guaranteeing trade union rights.