AS/COA Online | What to Expect from AMLO's Meeting with White House Top Brass

AS/COA Online | What to Expect from AMLO's Meeting with White House Top Brass

In Mexico, the transition period from election to inauguration is anything but short: all in all, it will be five months from the time Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the presidential election until his December 1 inauguration. But he's looking like he's ready to take office, and one hallmark is that, less than two weeks since his victory, he already has a high-level meeting slated with top White House officials. On Friday, in his headquarters in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, the future president many simply refer to as AMLO will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Joining AMLO will be Marcelo Ebrard, his pick to be Mexico’s next foreign secretary who, like the president-elect, is a former Mexico City mayor. Ebrard also worked on helping U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton court Latino voters in 2016. Other representatives on the Mexican side will include Alfonso Durazo, AMLO's pick for chief of public security; Jesús Seade, who is set to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); Martha Bárcena, AMLO's possible choice for ambassador to the U.S.; and Graciela Márquez Colín, the president-elect's pick for economy secretary.

Here’s what to know before the July 13 meeting.

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AS/COA Online | LatAm in Focus: What to Watch in NAFTA Negotiations

Within days of the first round of North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations in August, President Donald Trump was once again threatening to withdraw the United States from the 23-year-old pact. But, aside from comments at a rally or some Sunday-morning tweets, can the president actually do that?

Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, argues that, yes, he can—and that’s what he might do if his administration can’t secure the kinds of concessions he needs from Mexico and Canada to claim a political win. Leaving the deal, a move only 6 percent of Americans support, would come at a cost, though. “There will be a huge backlash if he terminates, both by the business community, which is benefiting, and workers who will discover that they were benefiting from NAFTA,” Hufbauer told AS/COA Online Editor-in-Chief Carin Zissis.

Still, Hufbauer suggests there is a good likelihood that the three countries will “muddle through” the talks, making minor concessions that might not leave any of the three parties satisfied but giving the appearance of a political win for all. One reason it will be hard to do much more is that both Mexico and the United States hold elections next year, meaning the talks can’t go much past January. “This notion of this five-month quickie is pretty optimistic,” said Hufbauer, who adds there’s a chance that provisional agreements will be made this year and then new rounds will commence in 2019, after elections conclude.

There will be a huge backlash if [Trump] terminates.

Setting aside political wrangling, negotiators will have to sit down and work out the technical details. Given that the United States will likely be looking for changes reflecting a “Buy American” protectionist streak, Mexico could find itself facing tough decisions over how to handle U.S. demands to trim a $64 billion trade deficit.

Hufbauer outlines what Mexico’s steps might be as the country prepares to host the second round of talks from September 1 to 5.

This podcast was produced by Luisa Leme.

AS/COA Online | LatAm in Focus: Jorge Castañeda Portends Changing Times for Mexico

What's the next step for Mexico in its 10-year-old drug war? What would it take to end the country’s corruption epidemic? And who will be the winner of the much-anticipated 2018 presidential election? Jorge Castañeda, a Mexican academic and former foreign secretary, spoke with AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis in Mexico City, sharing his answers to these questions and how they relate to a turbulent turn in U.S.-Mexican ties under the Trump administration.

For one thing, he says that Mexico does not have to help Washington carry out deportations and can block such moves by requiring the United States to prove deportees’ Mexican citizenship before repatriation. “Why should we let in people who they say are Mexicans, but who they cannot prove are Mexicans?” asks Castañeda, who served as a negotiator on U.S.-Mexico immigration reform during the government of Mexican President Vicente Fox. “This is an unfriendly American government. It makes no sense for Mexico to cooperate with them.”

Castañeda also says that Mexico’s next president would ideally be familiar with the United States and international issues, and who isn’t bogged down “by complicity with corruption of the past.” But, forecasting the winner, he says the 2018 election won’t deliver that result. “I think it will largely be a disaster,” he says. “But it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Read a transcript of this interview.

World Politics Review | Fear of the Unknown as Mexico Awaits the Trump Era

Summary: On the morning after the U.S. election, the front pages of Mexican dailies responded to Donald Trump’s win with shock, and those fears aren’t unfounded. While it’s uncertain whether Trump will make good on his campaign promises, Mexico—and the U.S.—should brace themselves for the economic fallout.

MEXICO CITY — On the morning after the U.S. election, the front pages of Mexican dailies responded to Donald Trump’s win with shock. Given that Mexico found itself in Trump’s crosshairs throughout the race, Mexicans’ fears aren’t unfounded. But the U.S. president-elect might not be able to make good on every threat he made on the campaign trail. 

Consider the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Trump will face plenty of challenges to building the infamous wall that was a centerpiece of his candidacy. First off, physical obstacles abound, including the Algodones Sand Dunes in southern California; the Coronado National Forest in Arizona and New Mexico, home to 9,000-foot mountains; and, not least, the Rio Grande. Next are the legal barriers: Roughly two-thirds of the border area is private- or state-owned. Then there’s the price tag, which could be as high as $25 billion, and which the Mexican government says it won’t cover, despite Trump’s campaign assertions that he would go so far as to block remittances unless it does. That’s no small threat. Mexican immigrants sent over $20 billion home in the first nine months of 2016 alone. 

Read the full text of the article at World Politics Review or via AS/COA Online