Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is weighing in on the presidential primary to his north, as Reuters notes.
It’s a bit of a historic moment, Mexican presidents have never given their input on any primary race or general election. An unspoken rule says they’re expected to stay out of it.
But AMLO isn’t. He took Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to task.
DeSantis has been making a concerted effort to run to former President Donald Trump’s right, and singled him out for not completing the border wall as promised.
When asked about the presidential race and DeSantis specifically at a press conference, AMLO did not shy away. “All of his playing politics with migrants was because he wanted to be the Republican party candidate. I hope the Hispanics of Florida wake up and don’t give him a single vote.”
It’s important to read between the lines here. AMLO is probably going on the attack for two reasons.
One is that the Mexican presidential election will be happening the same year as the one in the United States. AMLO is term limited, but he wants his new party, Morena, to succeed at the ballot box. Since Mexico doesn’t have a primary election, he’ll most likely be hand picking his successor.
And this is after violence in Mexico has spiked 10% within the last two years, with Mexican voters looking at the original PRI and PAN parties, who previously held power.
And most of all, AMLO is defending a friend.
He and Trump enjoyed an unusually positive relationship while the two were in office. He allowed Trump to implement his “Remain in Mexico” policy, cutting immigration off at the pass.
Trump credited AMLO in his efforts to declare the cartels a terrorist organization.
All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations. Statutorily we are ready to do so. However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @LopezObrador_ we….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2019
Which means that AMLO could take some credit for trying to lessen his nation’s violence. He did, after all, get official validation from the President of the United States. Trump has repeatedly said AMLO is someone he liked and respected and even called him a “great friend.”
Compare this to Trump’s relationship with former Mexican President Pena Nieto. He met with the former president, with Trump saying they didn’t discuss funding the border wall (Trump had a previous promise saying Mexico would pay for it). Nieto went to the press saying they did discuss it, and that Mexico won’t be paying a dime for the wall.
Certainly a contrast in relationships.
And AMLO sealed the deal when he said he would not call to congratulate Biden after he defeated Trump in the 2020 election (to compare, Canada congratulated Biden the morning after the election). He said there were too many unanswered questions and couldn’t say who the winner actually was. On December 15, after every other leader in the western hemisphere called to congratulate Biden, AMLO finally did so.
The two are close friends, and Trump could add some validation for the Morena Party. A lot of Mexicans feel that their nation is beleaguered by all the immigrants coming in and share some surprisingly conservative viewpoints.
If Trump wins the primary and then the election, AMLO will most likely call on Trump to help complete Morena’s international policy goals. They’ll have a close ally in Trump.