Is Mexico’s clash with Washington imminent? (Opinion)

Andrés Oppenheimer is the editor and syndicated foreign affairs columnist with The Miami Herald, anchor of “Oppenheimer Presenta” on CNN En Español, and author of seven books, several of which have been published in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. He recently published an editorial regarding the actions of Mexican president Lopez Obrador.

This is getting little attention in the United States, but should sound alarm bells across the Americas: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador seems to be moving increasingly toward radical populism as he nears the end of his six-year term.

López Obrador, perhaps to deflect public attention from a stagnant economy, rising inflation, growing poverty rates, and violence by organized crime groups, is making headlines by defying the United States and becoming more vocal in his defense of Cuba and other leftist dictatorships. Consider:

▪ In recent weeks, López Obrador has stepped up his rhetoric against the United States and Canada’s formal complaint that his government is discriminating against their private energy companies, a possible violation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement (USMCA).

He said Mexico’s free-trade deal with the United States can’t come “at the cost of our dignity” and announced that he will respond to the U.S. complaint at a military parade to commemorate Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16. That sounds like a bad omen.

Economists say the possibility of a USMCA trade spat could cost Mexico between $10 billion and $30 billion in tariffs and is causing high anxiety in U.S. and Mexican business circles. Mexico depends on the U.S. market for more than 78% of its export income.

▪ López Obrador proudly announced recently that he has hired 500 Cuban doctors to work in Mexico under a contract with Cuba’s government. Human-rights groups say the regime’s state-run business of exporting medical doctors amounts to modern-day slavery because the Cuban government keeps the bulk of the doctors’ foreign wages.

On his decision to hire Cuban doctors, López Obrador said on July 23, “It’s an instruction that I myself gave, knowing what would be the response of our adversaries, the conservatives.”

▪ On Aug. 13, on the occasion of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s birthday, López Obrador’s party, Morena, tweeted that Castro’s “history, his struggle, and resistance are to this day a synonym of dignity for millions of human beings around the planet.”

The Yucatan Times
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