Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AMLO Update: How He’s Playing the Immigration Showdown

Reading Time: 2 minutesLópez Obrador’s response to Honduras’ migrant caravan suggests differences with the current administration – and with Trump.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Carlos Tischler/Getty Images

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Highlight of the Week

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed optimism about working with Donald Trump on immigration, but a caravan of migrants attempting to make its way to the U.S. through Mexico highlighted a gulf in thinking between the two leaders. 

Asked about Trump’s renewed threats to close the U.S.’ southern border, AMLO stressed the importance of economic development in Central America and said his administration would provide support and visas to migrants from the region looking for work. The response pointed to differences of vision that could cause tension with the Trump administration, analysts told AQ.

“There’s a calculus (regarding relations with the U.S.) that the transition sometimes seems to lose sight of,” said Gustavo Almaraz, director of Grupo Estrategia Política, a consultancy. “What AMLO says now is no longer seen through the lens of an opposition figure, but as the person who is going to make the decisions come Dec. 1.”

Marcelo Ebrard, the incoming foreign secretary, called on the U.S. to take part in a plan to create jobs in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to help provide alternatives to migration. In an interview with Carmen Aristegui, Ebrard dismissed Trump’s tweets about the caravan as “predictable” and politically motivated.

What they’re saying: El Financiero on AMLO’s plan to stop migration with economic development; Salvador García Soto in El Universal on the makings of a new immigration crisisProceso on the foreign policy differences between AMLO and Jair Bolsonaro.

Women’s Rights

Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, a congressman from AMLO’s Morena party and president of the Lower House, said he’ll present legislation next week to promote gender equality and expand abortion rights nationwide, setting up a possible clash with the evangelical Christian element of Morena’s diverse congressional majority. 

López Obrador largely stayed quiet on social issues on the campaign trail, saying it should be up to the public to decide on abortion and gay rights. But Olga Sánchez Cordero, his pick for interior secretary, has promised that the administration will try to decriminalize abortion once in office. 

Abortion is currently only legal in Mexico City, and is a crime that can carry jail time in much of the country. The Front for the Family, a conservative group, has convened a nationwide pro-life demonstration for Oct. 20, and says it will deliver a document to the incoming government advocating against abortion rights. 

What they’re saying: Genaro Lozano on the PRD’s legacy on civil rights in Reformameasuring the costs of abortion in Mexico; a report on a spate of femicides in Ecatepec. 


López Obrador says that, regardless of turnout, results of a nationwide “consultation” set for Oct. 25-28 will decide the fate of Mexico City’s new airport. (See last week’s update for more.) 

Moody’s says AMLO’s plan to stop exporting oil could put the country’s credit rating at risk. 

On tour in the northern state of Tamaulipas, AMLO confirmed plans for economic exceptions in the border region that include fixing energy prices in line with those in the U.S. and cutting income taxes by 20 percent.

Olga Sánchez Cordero said that the incoming administration would review a list of political prisoners, some of whom could be considered for amnesty, before taking office on Dec. 1. López Obrador said his amnesty plan would not extend to leaders of organized crime.

Quote of the Week

“What’s more important, putting a politician in jail, chasing after corrupt politicians, or transforming Mexico?”

Speaking at a rally in Campeche, López Obrador said that, unlike previous presidents, he wouldn’t put on a show of jailing politicians to prove that his promises to end corruption are legitimate. 

Russell is AQ’s correspondent in Mexico City


Benjamin Russell is a writer based in Los Angeles and Mexico City, and a former editor of AQ.
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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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