Palacio Raymundo Riva: They bring him to the shadows

To use the colloquial language that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador uses and understands, the White House brings it to hats. He still hasn’t recovered from the disastrous visit to Washington, and yesterday they beat him up again. The good bilateral relationship is non-existent, and the fact that they do not yell and push him like former President Donald Trump does not mean that the tightening of the screw that the government of President Joe Biden is doing to them is less harsh than what his predecessor. But, classic López Obrador, he pushed forward. The President, whose political operation is defined by intuition and popular songs, responded with a melody by Chico Ché, where he ironically “wow, how scary, look how I’m shaking.”

López Obrador does tremble, but with anger. Last week he made an evaluation of the visit to Washington with his team, which concluded that it had not been favorable. His proposals were completely ignored and, instead, he promised to invest 1.5 billion dollars in the border, supporting the security wall that Trump wanted and never achieved a Mexican peso, which caused the derision of the White House alternate spokesman to López Obrador on Twitter. This week the information began to flow behind the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero, which does not leave him well stopped either. López Obrador called for immediate propaganda actions.

The ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma, declared that the Biden government would give 260,000 temporary visas to Mexican agricultural workers, without any evidence of this, or if he was referring to the 300,000 already allocated within the budget for fiscal year 2021- 2022, which are not yet specified. The President said, after his breakfast in Washington with a group of businessmen from the two countries, that there would be 40 billion dollars of investments, which was not clear either if they would be new, or if they were part of the investments stalled by the differences in matters energetic.

López Obrador has denied conflicts with US companies, and on the eve of traveling to Washington he said there would be investment announcements. He lies. It’s the opposite. More than 16 meetings since December with US businessmen at the National Palace have not resolved the problems. As a consequence, Biden, through the White House trade representative, Katherine Tai, yesterday accused the Mexican government of violating four articles of the North American Trade Agreement, and requested consultations with their Mexican counterparts, who have a period of 30 days to respond. . If no agreement is reached, the United States can ask a panel to review the dispute. As expected, the Canadian government, which has also been complaining about the same thing, joined the complaint.

The frivolity with which López Obrador processed and responded is worrying for Mexicans. He first said that it was the result of complaints from Mexican businessmen, not Americans, using pure propaganda to spread smoke screens. Tai does not answer for Mexican businessmen, but for those from the United States. The presidential statement is so absurd that it insults intelligence. But for López Obrador’s double discourse, in the morning circus, it is likely that Chico Ché was a resource to hide the seriousness of what the accusations mean. What cannot be hidden, however, is the complete unreality in which he lives.

“Everything we are doing in energy matters is in accordance with the Constitution, with our laws,” said the President. “The Electricity Law bothered them a lot, especially the Court’s resolution, because they thought that measures such as self-supply were going to be reversed in the Judiciary and the Court decides that self-supply is a legal fraud. It already seems that the Government of the United States is going to expose itself to us answering that they are supporting corrupt people.”

Gymnastics and magnesia are not the same, even if the morning bully says so. What the United States is challenging is the amendment to the Electricity Law that prioritizes electricity from the CFE over that produced by its private competitors, as well as the Mexican inaction, the delays, denial and revocation of the capacities of private companies to operate in the energy sector. They also denounced the regulatory advantages given to the CFE and Pemex in terms of a maximum sulfur content in fuels and in the use of the natural gas transportation network.

These measures, said in a statement the Office of the Commercial Representation of the White House, seem to be inconsistent with several of the obligations of the North American agreement, including the chapters of access to markets, investments, and those of state companies. The spokeswoman for Canada’s International Trade Minister, Mary Ng, told Reuters that they would join the United States’ complaint because, in effect, Mexico’s energy policies are inconsistent with the trilateral agreement.

Eighteen months of protests by US and Canadian companies did not move López Obrador at all. Even in the last meeting he had with Biden’s representative on climate change, John Kerry, when he wanted to bring up the issue of the Electric Law, the President stopped him. They did not talk about that subject and Kerry did not return to the National Palace. With his intransigence and his rude political handling, López Obrador got into a dilemma. Either he resolves Mexico within the provisions of the US trade agreement the dispute, or risks tariffs being imposed on Mexican products. If he decides to avoid the commercial war, what will happen is that the White House will have stopped López Obrador’s race towards the nationalization of the electricity sector.

The scenarios for López Obrador are negative. Any decision he makes will have consequences, having to decide between the Mexican destiny under his personal beliefs, or maintaining his obligation as President.

Raymond River Palace

twitter: @rivapa


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