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Mexico’s president sends letter congratulating Biden

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stands with the Mexican flag behind him.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stands during the commemoration of his second anniversary in office, at the National Palace in Mexico City on Dec. 1.
(Marco Ugarte / Associated Press)

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday he sent a letter of congratulations to U.S. President-elect Jose Biden, becoming one of the last world leaders to do so.

The tardy and somewhat chilly letter López Obrador sent late Monday contrasted with the cordial and friendly relationship he has had with President Trump.

López Obrador said Tuesday he intentionally waited until the electoral college vote before writing Biden. The one-page letter contained an implicit warning against getting involved in Mexico’s internal affairs.

But the letter also held out a seeming offer that Mexico might continue to act as a buffer against waves of migrants seeking to reach the United States, a role Mexico took on partly at the urging of Trump.

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“I also want to express my recognition of your stance in favor of migrants from Mexico and the rest of the world, which will allow us to continue with plans to promote development and welfare in southeastern Mexico and the countries of Central America,” López Obrador wrote.

“I believe that this way, nobody will be forced to leave the land of their birth, and they will be able to live, work and be happy with their family and among their people and their culture,” the letter continued. “In this way, we can create a definitive solution to migratory flows from and through Mexico toward the United States.”

As world leaders hastened to congratulate Joe Biden, Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waited more than seven hours before commenting, then said he was waiting it out. President Trump, he noted, had been “respectful” of Mexico. Critics said he was de facto endorsing Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat.

The Mexican government has reacted angrily to perceived slights and U.S. intervention in the country’s drug corruption problem. Mexico publicly protested the October arrest of former defense secretary Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles, saying Mexico had not been informed that U.S. prosecutors had charged him with taking money to aid a drug gang.

The Mexican government demanded he be returned, and López Obrador later sent a bill to congress to remove diplomatic immunity for U.S. agents in Mexico and place onerous requirements on their contact with Mexican officials.

López Obrador’s letter to Biden seemed to stress that wariness.

“We are certain that, with you as president of the United States, it will be possible to continue applying the basic principles of foreign policy contained in the [Mexican] constitution, especially non-intervention and the right to self-determination,” the letter said.

Although López Obrador made his only trip abroad to Washington earlier this year to celebrate with Trump the enactment of the Mexico-U.S. Canada free trade pact, he has yet to speak personally with Biden to congratulate him. He noted the two met about nine years ago, when Biden was vice president, and expressed hope the two would be able to speak in the future.


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