Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador all set to make his first foreign trip to Washington on Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly taken shots at Mexico and Mexican migrants to rally his base.
The visit comes just four months before US elections, has many Mexicans cringing.
But López Obrador has had a surprisingly warm relationship with Trump.
“This helps us by being neighbors,” López Obrador said Tuesday, before departing. “This is about the economy, it’s about jobs, it’s about well-being.”
By late Tuesday his flight had arrived in Dulles International Airport after a layover in Atlanta.
López Obrador hints at the real reason for the trip when he reels off US economic statistics — the size of the US pandemic stimulus package, the number of jobs the US got back in June.
In 2016, Trump, then a candidate for the presidency, visited López Obrador’s predecessor, an invitation for which President Enrique Peña Nieto was harshly criticized, inlcuding by López Obrador. Trump left that visit and flew to Arizona where he railed against immigrants.
Last year, Lopez Obrador had a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump in which both the leaders expressed their willingness to maintain a bilateral relationship based on friendship and cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.
Lopez Obrador even thanked President Trump for having a respectful attitude toward Mexico.
Since he came into office in January 2017, Trump has made the toughening of the US’ asylum system one of his main priorities as part of a broader nativist platform and discourse that tapped into the pervasive xenophobia of his political base.