Mexican president thanks Trump for taking trade tariffs off table

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for saying trade tariffs were currently off the table in recognition of the Mexican government’s efforts to reduce the flow of U.S.-bound migrants.

Under U.S. pressure to radically shake up its immigration enforcement efforts after apprehensions at the U.S. border hit a more than 10-year high, Mexico last month deployed thousands of militarized police across the country. Migration flows from Central America have since dropped sharply.

“I am grateful that even President Trump is making it known that Mexico is fulfilling its commitment and that there are no threats of tariffs,” Lopez Obrador said.

Under the agreement reached between the two countries on June 7, the United States gave Mexico until late July to show results on lowering migration, or face renewed pressure over tariffs and further enforcement measures.

Trump had threatened to impose escalating, blanket tariffs on Mexican goods.

Last week, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Mexico’s increased enforcement efforts, not seasonal factors, were behind an anticipated drop of as much as 25% in apprehensions from May’s record levels.

On Monday, when asked if tariffs were entirely off the table, Trump replied, “Well they are now, because I think the president is doing a great job.”

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jonathan Oatis)

Central Americans stalled at U.S.-Mexico border, mull work offers

A migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America to the United States, prepares to get on a bus bound for Mexicali at a makeshift camp in Navojoa, Mexico November 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Lizbeth Diaz

MEXICALI, Mexico (Reuters) – Hundreds of migrants from a caravan of Central Americans were stalled at the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday, where a handful said they welcomed recent Mexican offers of employment in the face of a hostile U.S. reception.

The Mexican government last week reiterated job offers to the migrants, saying that those who obtained legal status could occupy thousands of vacancies, most of them in the country’s “maquiladoras,” doing factory work.

Since arriving at the border last week, they have been denied entry through the gates linking Mexico to the United States.

Dozens of the mostly Hondurans waited in lines to bathe and washed clothes sullied from 2,600 miles of relentless travel.

Several members of the caravan, which left the crime-wracked city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Oct. 13, told Reuters they would be willing to stay put in Mexico rather than face rejection across the border.

“If we had work, we would stay. This has been very tiring,” said Orbelina Orellana, a 26-year-old Honduran mother of three, waiting at the Alfa and Omega shelter in the city of Mexicali, which borders Calexico, California.

“I cry a lot to not be able to feed them as I’d like,” Orellana said of her children. “I just want an opportunity.”

Briefly stalled by Mexican riot police on a highway crossing between two southern Mexican states late last month, a dozen migrants told Reuters they rejected such offers, preferring to try their luck in the United States.

But on Saturday, some said that thinking had changed.

“We had the idea to cross to the United States, but they told us it will be nearly impossible,” said Mayra Gonzalez, 32, traveling with her two children. “We cannot starve as we wait to find out if they’ll give us asylum. Better to work, by the grace of God, here in Mexico.”

In a sharp reversal of longstanding U.S. policy, President Donald Trump’s administration last week began enforcing new rules that curtail asylum rights for anyone who arrives without documents at the U.S. border.

Trump earlier this month deployed almost 6,000 troops along the long U.S. border with Mexico.

As they wound north through Mexico, the migrants were helped along by local authorities and residents who offered food, clothing and even free rides on daily treks that averaged 30 miles a day, much of it on foot.

But that welcome became noticeably frostier as the caravan reached the border.

In Tijuana, a city long accustomed to a population of migrants in transit, deportees and U.S. pleasure-seekers, a clutch of local residents last week threw rocks at the migrants, telling them to go home.

But some said the Central Americans could help boost the local economy.

“We are not against migration,” Ulises Araiza, President of the Association of Human Resources of Industry in Tijuana, told Reuters.

“We know the situation that these people face in their country. But we also favor order so as to integrate them into the labor sector, because only in Tijuana do we have a demand in the maquiladora industry for 5,000 people.”

(Writing by Delphine Schrank, editing by G Crosse)

Mexico ruling party says rules aimed at stopping rise of left

Enrique Ochoa Reza, Chairman of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) arrives to give his speech during their national assembly ahead of the 2018 election at Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes, Mexico August 12, 2017.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Rules adopted by Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party to allow it to form coalitions and non-members to run for president were necessary to stop leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from winning office next year, its president said.

The rules adopted over the weekend give the once-dominant party, known as PRI, a better chance of clinging to power in the July presidential election, where veteran leftist Lopez Obrador is an early favorite among voters tired of graft scandals, violence and a tepid economy.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico June 9, 2017.

File photo: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

PRI President Enrique Ochoa called Lopez Obrador “the enemy to beat,” repeating a long-standing refrain by Mexico’s ruling class that he would wreck the economy with Venezuelan-style policies.

“He is the threat for Mexico going forward,” Ochoa said in an interview on Foro TV. “We don’t want to have the same fate as Venezuela, with food shortages, the highest inflation in the world and GDP falling by 7 percent.”

Since last year, Mexico has been more concerned about a possible rupture of trade ties with the United States under Donald Trump than domestic politics, but the government has grown confident in recent months that talks starting this week in Washington will not end the North American Trade Agreement, which underpins much of Mexico’s economy.

Lopez Obrador recently denied having anything to do with the Venezuelan government. On the two previous occasions that the former Mexico City mayor ran for president, his opponents used the same strategy of comparing him with Venezuela’s socialists.

Ochoa said the new party rules allowed any future PRI president-elect to form coalitions to “foment governability.” He did not rule out alliances with any major party, beyond saying coalitions should be with those the centrist PRI could identify with ideologically.

Party veteran Mario Fabio Beltrones proposed allowing coalitions. The rules allowing non-party members to run for president are widely seen as favoring Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade, a technocrat untainted by the corruption scandals that have eroded the popularity of Pena Nieto’s government.

Meade has served in governments of both the PRI and the conservative opposition National Action Party. He is not a member of either party.


(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)