Washington/Mexico City, May 7 (EFE).- The United States and Mexico will work together to address the problems driving people in Central America to emigrate, Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agreed Friday during a teleconference.
The two governments will “establish a strategic partnership to address the root causes of migration from countries in the Northern Triangle region,” Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Harris, said in a statement.
“Northern Triangle” refers to the nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which together account for the majority of migrants streaming across Mexico with hopes of entering the US.
The flow has surged since Democrat Joe Biden succeeded Republican Donald Trump as president in January. The number of migrants stopped at the border in March was 172,131, the highest one-month total in two decades.
Among the root causes of migration, Sanders cited “lack of employment, limited market access, and deforestation and regional instability caused by climate change.”
Lopez Obrador told journalists ahead of the virtual meeting that he hoped the US would support the effort already under way to extend to Central America his administration’s “Sembrando Vida” (sowing life) reforestation program.
Launched in February 2019, two months after Lopez Obrador – commonly known as AMLO – took office, Sembrando Vida currently employs some 420,000 people on a mission to plant 1 million hectares (2.46 million acres) with fruit-bearing and timber-yielding trees.
Harris underscored Washington’s “commitment to working with Mexico to spur economic development in the Northern Triangle and southern Mexico, to protect the rights of workers to organize or join a union and expand opportunities for US business collaboration,” according to the statement from Sanders.
AMLO and the vice president also “discussed their desire to advance a bilateral effort against migrant smuggling and human trafficking that will bring together law enforcement from both nations to dismantle criminal networks,” Sanders said.
Describing the conversation as “friendly,” AMLO said afterward on Twitter that Mexico and the US will collaborate in the search for “effective, humane and just” answers to the problem of mass migration.
“Together, we must fight violence, we must fight corruption and impunity. It is in our countries’ mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration,” Harris told AMLO at the start of the meeting.
“You and I have discussed it before,” she said. “Most people don’t want to leave home, and when they do, it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because there are no opportunity.”
The vice president then reflected on the importance of the bilateral relationship.
“We share a border of course, but we also share the values of dignity and respect. We share the bonds of family and friendship and we also share, of course, a long, deep and complex history,” Harris said.
In a similar vein, AMLO recalled that in a conversation with Biden two months ago, he invoked a famous lament of 19th century Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”
AMLO hastened to add that relations between the two countries have improved to the point where one could say instead: “Blessed Mexico, so close to God and not so far from the United States.”
Harris is scheduled to visit Mexico on June 8 as part of a trip that will also take her to Guatemala. EFE