US Major Focus in Debate Regarding ‘Mexico in the World’

Created: 20 May, 2018
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Mario A. Cortez

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

As part of its three scheduled presidential debates, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute held the second meeting between Mexico’s top four candidates on the campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California, Tijuana this past Sunday, May 20.

With a central topic titled “Mexico in the world,” candidates Andres Manuel López Obrador, Ricardo Anaya, Jose Antonio Meade, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón expressed their viewpoints on the role which Mexico plays in areas such as commerce, migration, human rights, and more.

The conversation regarding Mexico’s policies became centered on the U.S.-Mexico relation, with frequent references to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican immigrants north of the border, strategies to regulate the flow of firearms from the United States, and others.

On the subject of providing aid to Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, all four participants said to be willing to provide greater aid, from legal help to medical services, to the southern border and on varying degrees.

About Tijuana as a migration hotspot, Lopez Obrador, who currently leads opinion polls, proposed opening up Mexico’s National MIgration Institute headquarters in this border city. Meanwhile, Anaya, currently in second place, spoke well of the action taken by the City in handling the Haitian refugee crisis of 2016 and 2017.

Regarding how they would defend Mexicans abroad as president, Anaya proposed cooperating with multilateral organizations and being very firm in negotiations. Rodriguez Calderon proposed taking 5 percent of remittances to Mexico for services to the benefit of Mexicans abroad.

On the same subject, Meade proposes working directly with American authorities to better tend to Mexican nationals. Lopez Obrador stated that he will seek the help of the United Nations to aid Mexicans abroad and will aim to have Mexican consulates serve as prosecutor offices.

In the wake of increasing deportations from inside the United States, candidates were asked about what they would do to help those returning to Mexico after making a life in the United States. Both Rodriguez Calderon and Anaya agreed that they would look to reinsert Mexican nationals into the country’s social systems and programs as well as work to have good jobs for their return.

Without providing exact answers, Lopez Obrador said that he wants to encourage Mexicans to return home; meanwhile Meade said that there are many ways for those returning to Mexico to have a dignified life.

U.S. President Donald Trump was also a topic during Sunday’s debate, after the candidates were asked how they would be able to talk with him and gauge his respect towards Mexico and its people.

Lopez Obrador stated that Mexico will have Trump’s respect based on moral authority and that through this authority a trade war will be avoided. He also added that Mexico can avoid foreign economic threats through economic self sufficiency.

Anaya said that he will demand mutual respect and that he will negotiate with the United States by “putting everything on the table.”

Meade, who was a member of Mexico’s canciliery during then-candidate Trump’s visit to Mexico, said he didn’t think too much of the visit because he didn’t believe Trump would win. He also said he believes the visit was productive as Trump hasn’t pulled the United States out of NAFTA as he threatened during his campaign.

Rodriguez Calderon stated that he will speak in a way which is “firm and clear” with Trump and even said he would go as far as expropriating on of Mexico’s largest banks if need be.

Mexico’s third and final debate will be held in the southeastern city of Merida, Yucatan on June 12.