On Wednesday, July 8, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and President Donald Trump met for the first time. The controversial meeting, meant to celebrate the signing of the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA), is viewed by critics as a highly political move to help raise their popularity as the two have failed to contain a surge of COVID-19 cases in both countries. As Dan Erikson said in Global Americans’ panel on the trilateral implications of the meeting, if this was meant to celebrate USMCA, AMLO would have also visited the Democratic leadership that was instrumental in passing the deal in the United States.
Following the meeting, both presidents were on their best behavior in a presser at the White House’s Rose Garden. While President Trump avoided any mention of the border wall and thanked the USMCA agreement for bringing the two countries closer, AMLO praised the U.S. and the president for “treating us with kindness and respect.” AMLO also thanked President Trump for being “increasingly respectful” toward Mexicans living in the United States. AMLO’s comments and actions since taking the presidency are a complete 180 from those of candidate AMLO, who was a vocal critic of Trump and even excoriated former President Enrique Peña Nieto for appeasing to his demands. As Mexican journalist Alejandro Páez Varela told Jon Lee Anderson for The New Yorker, “AMLO thinks of Mexico and only Mexico.” Now we wait and see what this meeting brings for the country.