Mexican president says he won’t confront Trump over Mexico wall, coronavirus comments
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday said that he doesn’t share President Trump’s opinion that the border wall has staved off transmission of the coronavirus, but said he would not publicly confront Trump over his statements.
“I respect President Trump’s point of view,” López Obrador told reporters during a daily press conference.
“Of course I don’t share [his opinion], but I’m not going to confront [Trump],” he added.
López Obrador was asked about Trump’s assertion that construction of the border wall has prevented coronavirus contagion coming north from Mexico.
“But you take a look, why don’t they talk about Mexico? Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall, because if I didn’t have the wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico,” Trump told Chris Wallace in an interview that aired on “Fox News Sunday.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 245 miles of barrier have been built so far, including parts that replaced older barriers.
And the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has severely curtailed the remnants of the border asylum system, already limited by the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Although the virus has spread aggressively in both countries, Mexican border governors have called for stricter border controls, as U.S. states along the southern border like Texas have become focal points for the pandemic.
At the presidential level, Trump and López Obrador have avoided pointing fingers over the virus, preferring to keep a civil personal relationship, which López Obrador hailed as a major accomplishment of his Washington visit last month.
López Obrador was severely criticized at home and abroad for not meeting with Democrats or Mexican immigrants during his trip, but his supporters have extolled López Obrador’s ability to maintain friendly relations with the Trump administration.
“We just had a visit to the United States, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexican governments is very good,” said López Obrador.
Others criticized López Obrador for visiting and lauding Trump four months before the U.S. general election, in some ways mirroring the stage set for then-candidate Trump by former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2016.
López Obrador, whose Rose Garden speech was quickly cut into Trump reelection ads, justified Trump’s statements on the wall and coronavirus as part of the electoral process.
“We are not distant neighbors,” said López Obrador. “You have to take into consideration that the United States is about to formally have elections — it’s a special season. In any country in the world, when there are elections, there are more statements, more propaganda, more debate, but we don’t get into that.”
“We will always respect the opinion of President Trump,” added López Obrador.