Jan 11, 2023
President Biden, Canada’s Trudeau and Mexico’s López Obrador Speak From Leaders Summit Transcript
President Biden, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the press following the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City, Mexico. Read the transcript here.
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President Biden (00:00):
The reason for this summit, this trilateral relationship is so impactful is, because we share common vision for the future, grounded on common values. And I mean that sincerely. Common values we share in our countries. Since becoming president, I’ve been laser focused on rebuilding the US economy from the bottom up and the middle out. Not the trickle down economy, the bottom up and the middle out. It works, because the wealthy do very well and everybody else does well too, but everybody does well. And, from the bottom up means investing in priorities for working families. The United States has made historic bipartisan investments in infrastructure and innovation, that already began to deliver concrete benefits to the American people, and I would argue it will ultimately reap benefits for the entire North America.
We’ve renewed our dependence and deepened our cooperation for our closest friends and allies. None closer to Mexico and Canada to take on the biggest challenges facing the region and, quite frankly, the world, because there can no longer be any question. None. In today’s interconnected world, we cannot wall ourself off from shared problems. We are stronger and better when we work together, the three of us. And together we’ve made enormous progress since our last summit, from fighting COVID 19 and strengthening our ability to address public health threats to investing in and building a 21st century workforce.
At the top of our shared agenda today is keeping the North America the most competitive, prosperous, and resilient economic region of the world, and the strength of our economic relationship among our nations not only supports good-paying jobs in all of our countries, but it generates tremendous growth. Now, we’re working to a future to strengthen our cooperation on supply chains and critical minerals, so we can continue to accelerate in our efforts to build the technologies of tomorrow, right here in North America.
This summit, this summit also builds on the continual consultation and cooperation with one another to take on the challenges that impact all three of our nations. Our entire hemisphere is experiencing unprecedented levels of migration, greater than any time in history. And North America. At the North America’s Summit leaders and hosted in Washington 2021, we launched the idea of a regional-wide approach. A regional-wide approach to a regional-wide problem. The idea grew into the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which 21 countries ultimately adopted at the summit of the Americas six months ago.
And we’re working together, especially with our North American partners to fulfill our commitments under that declaration. They include the policy I announced last week to expand safe and legal pathways for immigrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti who are seeking a better life here in the United States of America. We also want to thank you, Mr. President, for stepping up to receive into Mexico, those not following the lawful pathways we’ve made available, instead of attempting to unlawfully cross the border between our countries. On my way here, I stopped in El Paso, Texas, to see the situation for my own eyes and to meet with US border security officials.
It’s putting real strain on the communities in both Mexico and the United States. We’re working together to address this challenge in a way that upholds our nation’s laws and protects the human rights of migrants facing desperate circumstances. We’re also working together to take on the scourge of human smuggling and illegal drug trafficking. In just the last six months, our joint patrols in Mexico have resulted in the arrest of more than 7,000, 7,000 human smugglers. We’ve seized more than 20,000 lbs of deadly fentanyl at the border. And, today, we’ve discussed how all three of us can continue to deepen and strengthen our shared efforts to cut off the flow of illegal fentanyl, including by tackling the precursor chemicals used in synthetic drugs as we go after the laboratories where they’re made and the stash houses where they are stored.
We also talked about meeting our commitments to make North America a clean-energy powerhouse. And I believe that’s within our grasp. And a global leader in addressing the climate crisis. That means working together to promote zero-emissions vehicles, to build charging stations for electric vehicles that are compatible across our international borders. It means exploring shared markets for clean hydrogen. And it means working together to meet our ambitious commitments under the Paris Agreement, including tackling methane and black carbon.
And finally, as three vibrant democracies, we recognize our greatest strength is our people. Let me say that again. Vital democracies we are. And our greatest strength are our people. The strength of our people. And the key to our competitive edge in the world is our incredible diversity. So, together we’re working to address the inequities that for too long have played historically marginalized communities in each of our nations, to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make for our future, and we’re going to make it together. So Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, I’m honored to stand with you today. And I’m grateful to have both of you as partners, and I might add friends, as we work together to realize a shared vision for North America. Thank you very much.
Speaker 1 (06:33):
[foreign language 00:06:47].
Speaker 2 (06:46):
Let’s give the floor to his excellency, the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (06:51):
Bonjour, Good afternoon, [foreign language 00:06:55].
President Lopez Obrador (06:54):
Hello. Good afternoon.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (06:55):
President López Obrador [foreign language 00:06:59]. Thank you for having us here in Mexico City. President Biden, my friend, thank you for all your hard work and your valuable insights in today’s meetings. As a continent, we are unique. We are three large democracies committed to freedom, human rights, equality and creating real opportunity for everyone. We share deep ties as friends and trading partners. [foreign language 00:07:26]
President Lopez Obrador (07:25):
In these 30 years, the economies of Mexico, US, and Canada have become closely tied, because of NAFTA. This trade agreement helped our economies grow and created millions of good employment and the trade amongst our borders drew investors from the world over.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (07:57):
… competitive in the world. It makes sense why. Combined, we are home to half a billion people. We have an extraordinarily strong innovation ecosystem. Our combined GDP is larger than that of the European Union. And as leaders, we are all dedicated to driving economic growth that supports the middle class and those working hard to join it. These are all foundations of a strong and resilient continental economy. People remember what happened just a few years ago when the certainty of this partnership was in question. Investors, businesses, workers, and citizens all worried about what would happen.
When free trade is at risk that isn’t good for competition in the global market. Thankfully, the belief in free and fair trade won the day. We renegotiated and we got an even better deal. To put it simply, we are and always will be, stronger together. The world today is facing a lot of uncertainty, with the rise in authoritarian leaders causing global instability and the high cost of living, putting stress on families at home. It’s important that we come together as leaders and as friends, to look at ways to make our economies more resilient. Today, we discussed how we can build reliable value chains on this continent for everything from critical minerals, to electric vehicles to semiconductors. This is good for workers, good for consumers and good for communities across our countries. [foreign language 00:09:52]
President Lopez Obrador (09:51):
So, the importance of supply chains and economic resilience, the importance of being prepared, being ready to face a new pandemic and try to prevent it today. We spoke about a way to improve our cooperation in the realm of health or services in order to be ready to intervene.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (10:16):
We can boost our economic resilience even further through our work to build a clean economy. Things like clean energy, including hydrogen, manufacturing zero-emission vehicles, and encouraging more people to adopt them. This is an enormous opportunity for workers and for business. [foreign language 00:10:38]
President Lopez Obrador (10:38):
We should all be part of climate action. Government and private sector should work together to attain the 2030 goals and objectives. These goals are not only about reducing pollution to get to the Paris objectives. They have to do to with our engagements to preserve 30% of our lands and oceans in 2030. In last COP 15 in Montreal, Canada convened countries around the world and we reach a historic agreement to preserve and protect nature. This is essential for the health of the economy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (11:17):
Canada is pleased to have our Mexican and American friends committed so strongly to protecting clean air, clean water and a brighter future. Canada is also pleased to see all three countries take steps towards building a more diverse equal and inclusive society, a society where there is opportunity for everyone. Where women and girls are politically and economically empowered, including indigenous women and girls. Where the benefits of growth are felt by workers and families across the economy. By doing this, we create a more stable, prosperous and equal future, and we build economies that work for all North Americans. We made progress on a lot of different things today. There’s a lot going on in the world right now and as North American leaders, we recognize the roles our countries play in being a source of stability and security, not just in the region, but around the world. [foreign language 00:12:27].
President Lopez Obrador (12:27):
This summit was extremely fruitful. We were able to reiterate our vision and the force of our partnership.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (12:28):
I know we will make much progress in the coming year, and I look forward to hosting you both in Canada for the next North American Leaders Summit. Thank you, merci, gracias.
Speaker 2 (12:56):
Let’s give the floor to Mr. Andres Manuel López Obrador, President of the United Mexican States.
President Lopez Obrador (13:04):
I want to thank in, a very sincere fashion, the participation of President Biden and the Prime Minister of Canada-
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (13:14):
… Justin Trudeau.
President Lopez Obrador (13:15):
… Justin Trudeau. And, also the participation of their respective wives Jill, Sophie. And I also want to thank their delegations and teams. The mere fact of being here together today as good neighbors in this environment of respect to look for the wellbeing of our peoples in a joint manner is in itself a very important historic event [inaudible 00:13:56] … happening. Nonetheless, I wanted to highlight that we’ve agreed on strengthening our economic trade, commercial relations. And for that, we’re going to be creating a joint committee aimed at planning and substituting imports in North America, so that we may try to be increasingly self-sufficient in this part of the world. And, to turn development cooperation into a reality as well as the wellbeing of all the countries of our continent. We want that to be a reality.
The United States, Canada and Mexico will propose … Each one of those countries will be proposing for members, for the formation, for the creation of this task force, of this committee of 12 specialists that not only know this issue we are going to be working on. But, they will also have our absolute trust to motivate, to persuade and invite the business community, workers, public servants of all three governments and to convince them of the importance the transcendence of being united in North America. And, for us to be able to seek from here on, this unity in everything we do throughout the American continent.
On the part of Mexico and this group, we are going to be represented by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, Finance Minister of Mexico, Raquel Buenrostro Sanchez, who is the Secretary of Economy, and Alfonso Romagosa, who represents the business community. He’s an independent businessman, Mr. Romeos. And, we also discussed, as a priority issue, economic, commercial trade integration of, as I have already expressed, of the entire American continent.
And the wellbeing of the people’s and the new relations of cooperation, leaving behind interventionism, hegemonic, interventionism. Let me do a set aside here, to express my acknowledgement, my recognition to Prime Minister Trudeau, President Biden for the way, which has been so solidarity in which they’ve acted, in which they are acting vis a vis the attempt of coup d’etat in Brazil. This shows that there’s a commitment, authentic commitment in favor of democracy. Our support for President Lula of Brazil. Together, we have to be able to accomplish all this. Everything that President Biden just said, we have to be able to accomplish this. That is in an equal footing, for us to be treating each other as good neighbors, economic allies and as friends.
We, of course, will be helping to turn this dream into a reality. And we are very enthused at the certainty that this is something we can accomplish. Peace is the result of justice. Social problems cannot be solved only with coercion measures. We should always attempt to discourage violence and the migration phenomenon with an approach, humanitarian approach of opportunities for the wellbeing of everyone.
People are good by nature and it’s circumstances that sometimes make it necessary for someones to take the path of anti-social behaviors. We have seen this in Mexico and also i our sister countries, the countries of Honduras and El Salvador, for instance. In our country, in Mexico, since corruption is not allowed and the budget is used for development and supporting the poorest sectors of our population, today we not only have jobs,
President Lopez Obrador (20:01):
We have seen reductions in violence. We have less migration as well, and we’ve also tempered frustration and what we can see is this flame, this flame which is alive. I’m talking about the flame of hope. Peace is the fruit, it is the result of justice. The Central American case is exceptional. With just two resources, we are helping producers in communities in Honduras and El Salvador so that they can grow their land, so that they can grow their crops with technical assistance, support and basic income. In those towns where we are applying those actions, particularly the program we call [foreign language 00:21:08], which means sewing life and youth building the future program, we’ve not just in a reduction of people wanting to migrate to the United States, seeking opportunities of better living conditions and jobs, but for many young people of those countries, crime has stopped being the only possibility of survival and the only way to move forward in life.
The migration issue, as many other issues, as discussed in a very broad fashion, and we reached important agreements among the three countries for the benefits of our peoples, as you will be able to see, as you will also be able to know through a [inaudible 00:21:59] we have that will be provided to you immediately.
Finally, I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his extraordinary and fraternal program that consists of granting temporary working visas for laborers, workers. This program is already benefiting 25,000 men and women, 25,000 Mexicans. This is a path to follow that is orderly migration. Prime Minister Trudeau is a great ally of Mexico. President Biden, I want to thank you sincerely from maintaining with Mexico a relationship of cooperation, of friendship, sincere friendship, of respect for our fellow man who live and work in very honest fashion in the United States who are not harassed. They’re not suffering rates as unfortunately it used to happen in the past.
We have said this and I repeat it today, I insist on this, you, President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built even one meter of wall and we thank you for that, sir. Although some might not like it, although the conservatives don’t like it. In a very special manner, I also want to say that I have requested in a very respectful manner of President Biden, I have requested on insisting, and I know that this is not a simple issue or matter, but it’s fair and very just matter and that’s why I’m proposing it, that’s why I’m mentioning this and also because I fully trust President Biden.
I’ve asked President Biden to insist before the US Congress to regularize the migration situations of millions of Mexicans who have been in the states working, living in the United States and contributing to the development of that great nation, which is the United States of America. I have reasserted, reaffirmed, that President Biden is a man with convictions, who maintains principles, ideals to guarantee, to ensure as many others, men, women, and the United States and throughout the world, and the Statue of Liberty never, never, ever should become a symbol, a void, an empty symbol.
Let me conclude by saying that my professor, great poet Carlos [inaudible 00:26:02], my master, my teacher, in 1930, he said that the wish of freedom of liberty is the biggest fruit that has materialized that is in the heart of humans. To be doing that, we have to be free. The sentiments of justice are the children of freedom, of liberty. Never, ever being slaves will we be able to be just and fair. Thank you very much.
Speaker 3 (26:52):
Now let’s begin a Q&A session. Ladies, gentlemen and the US Press, Your Excellency. Joseph Biden Jr. President of the United States of America will take a question from a journalist, a reporter from the United States, please.
President Biden (27:18):
All right. I was having trouble hearing, but I’d like to call on Associated Press Colleen Long for the first question.
Colleen Long (27:29):
Thanks, Mr. President and hi, Prime Minister Trudeau. For Mr. President, you’ve been accused of being too soft on border security and now too hard following the recent border policy changes, what’s the right balance? On the news at home, can you explain how classified documents ended up in one of your offices and should the public have been notified sooner? For Prime Minister Trudeau, there’s been a suggestion that Canada lead a multinational security force in Haiti. I wondered if that was a possibility and what you would need.
President Lopez Obrador, you said you would be willing to accept more migrants arriving to the US/Mexico border. What do you want from the US in return?
President Biden (28:34):
Answer first? Well, let me get rid of the easy one first. People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously. When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me, secure office in the capitol. The four years after being vice president, I was the professor at Penn, they found some documents in a box in a lock cabinet or at least a closet, and as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box and they did what they should have done. They immediately called the archives, immediately called the archives, turned them over to the archives, and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised and learned that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.
But I don’t know what’s in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes. They’ve turned over the boxes to the archives and we’re cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon and we’ll be more detail at that time. The first question now I forgot. Your first question related to …
Colleen Long (29:55):
I asked if the-
President Biden (29:56):
I’m only joking. The answer is both extremes are wrong. It’s a basic middle proposition here. Look, as was mentioned by all of us in one way or another, this has been the greatest migration in human history around the world as well as in this hemisphere. When I got elected, the first major piece of legislation I introduced was to reform the immigration process to make it more orderly, to make sure people have access under the law. What we found out, and not just in my visit to El Paso, but before that, we found out is that our Republican friends and few Democrats are very critical of what’s going on on the border, but yet refused to even look at the detail document I submitted for the Congress to consider to reform the process completely.
So number one, right now, a majority of our migrants are coming from four countries; Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua, and we’re expanding the very successful parole program we had with regard to Venezuela to Cuba and to Nicaragua and to Haiti to provide safe and orderly and humane processing for people fleeing those countries to come to the United States seeking asylum. This is going to reduce the number of people illegally trying to cross the border. Venezuelans were trying to enter the country, that has dropped off dramatically because we’ve allowed them to go directly to whatever country, the first country, they go to directly contact the United States, make sure that they make their application, showing that they do a background check, they in fact have access to a sponsor and that they’ve been examined. That way they’re able to come through ports of entry.
It’s dropped off, I’m going to make sure I get the numbers right, dramatically from a 1,100 persons trying to enter per day to 250 a day. I want to thank the president of Mexico for agreeing to take up to 3000 people back that don’t meet this criteria because look, right now the cartels make a lot of money, which they use for drug trafficking as well. People have to make it through jungles and long journey to the border and many are victimized not only in terms of what they have to pay but victimized physically in other ways. We’re trying to make it easier for people to get here, opening up the capacity to get here, but not have them go through that god awful process. We’re going to continue our efforts to address the root causes of migration to help people stay in their home countries.
I’ve asked the Congress for $4 billion to provide for that. We’ve also had our vice president provide for private donations of over $3 billion to make sure that people … Look, all of you know all of us in the United States are immigrants. Mine go all the way back to the Irish famine. But the point is all of us have been immigrants and one of the things that comes across fairly clearly is it’s not like people sit in their home city, county, town and say, “I got a great idea. Let’s sell everything we have, give it to a coyote, go through some jungles and a long path up to the United States, smuggle us across the border, drop us in a desert and won’t that be fun in a country we don’t even speak the language?” We can do more than merely just make legal immigration more streamlined, but we can also do it by preventing people from wanting to have to leave in the first place, by helping their communities, in fact, better their circumstances.
By the way, my proposals are supported by the Chamber of Commerce, by the American Labor Movement, which is an unusual coalition and a whole range of people. The point here is that my Republican friends in Congress should join us in the solutions and the one last point I’ll make, and I’m sorry to go on so long, but we spend a lot of time talking about it, is we have to increase the technological capabilities of the border, both to intercept illegal drugs and other contraband as well as people being smuggled across the border. We have now the ability to use some of you’ve seen them, I know you have, I’m sure, these trucks that ride alongside of a tractor trailer. It’s like a giant x-ray machine and it can determine what’s inside that tractor trailer and thousands cross the border every day in legal commerce.
We’re allowed to determine whether or not there are fentanyls in there, drugs in there, people being smuggle across the border. We are going to provide significantly more of those vehicles for the people to be able to determine at the border what is coming across legally and illegally. A lot more to say, but I probably already said too much. Thank you.
Speaker 3 (35:51):
David Cochran, CBC, from Canada will be asking a question to-
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (36:02):
Your question and I’ll fold the Haiti question in as well.
David Cochran (36:07):
Okay, thank you Prime Minister. A question for you and for President Biden as well, President Biden, you’ve talked a lot about economic cooperation and building continental supply chains and resilience here, but since you’ve been president, Canadians have seen what they consider to be US protectionism from you and things such as the Buy American Act. What assurances can you give to Canadians and Mexicans watching this at home that they’ll be equal partners in the economic opportunity you’re talking about in this transition and not have to confront further attempts at American protectionism?
President Lopez Obrador, if you have anything to say on that, we’d love to hear it and Prime Minister Trudeau, if you can answer the Haiti question, but also explain to us what steps your government needs to take to take advantage of this opportunity on the continental supply chain resiliency to ensure that Canadian companies make things like semiconductors and don’t just supply critical minerals to American companies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (37:04):
Thank you very much. First on Haiti, the situation in Haiti is heartbreaking. Canada has stood with the people of Haiti for decades, including over the past two years with multiple interventions with the UN, with other partners on the ground, military interventions, police interventions, even prison guards. We have continued to stand with the people of Haiti and we will continue to. Obviously this current situation is heart-wrenching and we need to continue to be there for the people of Haiti, but we need to make sure that the solutions are driven by the people of Haiti themselves. That’s why Canada’s focus as we’ve stepped up over the past months has been, first of all, inputting significant sanctions on the elites who are responsible for so much of the violence and political instability in Haiti.
A handful of small, extraordinarily wealthy families in Haiti have been causing much of the strife because of political and pecuniary interests, and that is why the sanctions that Canada has put forward are causing significant impacts on the ground. We’re also moving forward with significant supports for the Haitian national police, including with armored vehicles that the Americans have stepped up on as well, to ensure that the police is able to stabilize the situation on the ground. Obviously, there’s much more to do. We’ve sent down a group of interlocutors to work both on the political side but also to liaise directly with the security officials on the ground so that we can be responsive in immediate ways to what is needed for the Haitian national police to get a better control and ensure greater stability for the people of Haiti.
The UN called in September for the free flow of food, medicines, water and fuel. Much of that has started again, it’s still not where it needs to be, but we’re going to continue to lean in on ensuring that that happens. But at the same time, we are working with partners across the Caribbean and indeed with the United States and Mexico to ensure that if the situation starts to deteriorate once again, we will have options. But like I said, we’re going to make sure that what we do this time allows for the Haitian people to get the situation under control, and a big part of that is putting those sanctions on the Haitian leadership that are responsible for so much of the misery people are going through.
In regards to the continental supply chain that was at the center of our conversations throughout this North American Leaders Summit, the idea that we already work extraordinarily well together with NAFTA, but there’s so much more
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (40:00):
… more we can be doing at a time where supply chains around the world are under increasing stress and significant economic actors around the world are becoming less reliable as partners and less desirable as partners in building the technologies and the energy futures that we want.
That’s why, and you brought up a few examples of it, our critical minerals approach strategy that we just released a few weeks ago is focused not just on mining the critical minerals that Canada has, that North America and the world needs, in responsible environmental partnership with Indigenous Peoples doing it the right way, but also the development, the processing, the transforming into batteries, the transforming into technology that goes along the value chain as something that is important for Canada.
And, yes, it’s something that we’re continuing to look at. That’s the same thing with electric vehicles where we’re building electric vehicles with our partners in Mexico and in the United States. But Canada, again, from the critical minerals that go into the batteries and the batteries themselves that we’re starting to build, to the steel and aluminum that is amongst the cleanest in the world being developed in Canada, to the technology, the innovation, from AI to engineering that is part of it, Canada is very much a partner in what we’re developing in terms of more resilient supply chain. So, there’s lots more to do.
Indeed, even on semiconductors, the largest semiconductor packaging plant in North America, I believe, is in Bromont, Quebec. And packaging of semiconductors is actually how you assemble them into a unit that can then do the high-value calculations and computations that need to happen.
These are the kinds of things that Canada is very much focused on in ensuring not just prosperity right now, but good jobs as we move towards a environmentally responsible, net-zero, socially inclusive future that the middle class in all three of our countries are relying on.
Briefly, in French: In regard to Haiti, Canada has always been there to help the Haitian people, and we are working with our partners in the region to guarantee better solutions for the Haitian people. We have laid sanctions against the elites. We are helping the National Police in Haiti.
We have had good exchanges, good dialogues with our partners in the US and Caribbean countries to guarantee that we will be able to preserve and to have the people of Haiti at the center of the solutions in regard to the economic integration and the competitiveness in North America. Be it electric vehicles, be it Critical Minerals Strategy minerals, and the ones we’re going to develop to produce the necessary technologies or in regards to any other technologies in order to work together, because we know that North America can offer many solutions, great competitiveness to the rest of the world, and we are a true force to reckon with in our continent.
Sara Pablo of the Formula Group will pose a question to the constitutional President of the United Mexican States.
Sara Pablo (43:55):
Yes. Good afternoon, Presidents, Prime Minister. And we have a few questions for President Biden.
I know that recently you announced the United States will be receiving citizens from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua. What is the timeframe? And are you thinking of expanding the number of people you will be receiving? Some other nations could be included? And what is the amount in technological improvements in the United States?
And for President Lopez Obrador: How will Mexico be prepared to receive all the migrants the United States will be expelling from its territory? And the new migration center in the southern part of Mexico, what is it all about?
And then, after this 10th summit, are we going to be seeing changes in migration policies in the way migrants are being treated?
And finally, this is for President Biden: Fentanyl. What concrete actions are you going to be implementing? What’s the impact of the detention of Ovidio Guzman? Because the Cartel of the Pacific is one of the main fentanyl producers.
And finally, another question on energy sector consultations. President Biden, Prime Minister Trudeau, did you discuss those discussions about the USMCA, the T-MEC?
President Lopez Obrador (45:25):
Very well. We did speak about migration in a very broad manner. Of course, there is cooperation with the US administration. And at the same time, we have a commitment to protect migrants.
What President Biden has proposed is absolutely true. If migrants cross our country, and, in some cases, they also go through other countries in Latin America, to arrive in the United States, migrants are facing so many risks when they do that. Starting with the fact that they are victims of the traffickers, the smugglers, the human traffickers known as the coyotes or polleros. And they charge migrants a high amount of money to take them northbound. Now, those polleros, or coyotes, have networks. And at the same time, they hire trailers, truck trailers. The box of the trailer, they can transport up to 300, 400 people. So, constant accidents are taking place on the highways of Mexico, the roads of Mexico, unfortunately. And the worst of it all is that many migrants are being kidnapped by criminal groups, by criminals. They’re being murdered. And this is very sad, very painful.
That’s why I’m speaking about protection. What we want is an in-depth solution. We’ve always said that people, just as President Biden said, people do not leave their towns, their countries, their families because they like to do it. This is not a pleasure for them. They do it because of the needs they have. This is a necessity.
We’ve always said we have to look at the root causes of all this. We have to try for people to be able to work and be happy where they were born, where their relatives, their customs, their traditions, their cultures are. And we need to invest for that. We need to invest in development of the countries with more inequality and poverty, because migration has to be an optional thing, not a forced situation.
However, in the meantime, because we’re, of course, doing everything we can to accomplish this, Mexico, with just a few resources, is helping. I have already mentioned that we are working with communities in El Salvador, in Honduras. We’re going to be starting this in Guatemala and Belize as well. However, we do need to promote development even more and wellbeing to ensure, guarantee opportunities for those that are forced to migrate and leave their communities.
We are not thinking of building any center in the southeastern part of Mexico, any migration center. We’re not thinking of that. What we do is help with shelters, with healthcare services, with food services as well. That’s the way we help migrants.
And we do celebrate the fact that the US administration has made the decision, rather, to have an orderly migration flow in the case, for instance, of our Venezuelan brothers and sisters. And I understand that this plan will also be extended, will be expanded to benefit other migrants, other countries.
We know for sure that since the announcement was made saying that those permits, humanitarian visas were going to be granted in the case, for instance, of the Venezuelan population, we’ve seen a decrease in migration flows or people crossing Mexico to migrate. This has been a considerable reduction because this was announced in the United States, and this was made public everywhere, saying that 24,000 humanitarian visas or permits were going to be granted and that the formalities had to be covered, the paperwork. Although there are some requirements that have to be met, people decided to do it. So what happened was that a new path has been opened; it didn’t exist before.
Everything was arriving in the United States, risking everything, risking people’s lives, of course, at the risk of their own lives. Now that this mechanism has been approved, people can file their own request. And this might take time. However, there’s hope. A hope that a purpose is going to be accomplished: the purpose of going to the United States to work, to live. We celebrate this, and we think that… I insist what Canada is doing is also the right thing to do.
And I was talking about our own experience as well. And you can look at data. It’s there for you to look at. Because of circumstances in the past, migration corresponded to the sister countries of Central America. Those were the main migration flows from Central America, but for a long time as well, Mexicans migrating who were going to look for a better living standard, toward going to look for a job in the United States.
And just imagine: There are 40 million Mexicans in the United States, 40 million who were born here in Mexico, or they’re the children of people who were born in Mexico.
Now, what have we been able to accomplish with all the support for wellbeing? We’ve reduced the number of Mexican migrants, yes. There are less migrants abandoning Mexico now because there’s public investment; because out of 35 million families, 30 million families of Mexican families are now receiving at least a program, a wellbeing program. And this is a very direct manner of doing this here in Mexico.
All the senior citizens, 65 or over, receive a pension. This is a universal program in Mexico. 11 million of senior citizens in Mexico are getting a pension. 11 million students of low-income families, of poor families are getting grants. They’re getting scholarships. All the boys and girls with disabilities also have their own pension.
We have a program for reforestation. It is the most important reforestation program in the world. And we are planting over 1 million hectares of fruit and timber trees. And we are giving jobs to over 400,000 peasants that are growing, planting those trees.
So, then, all these programs help so that people may be staying in their own communities, in their towns.
We built the Dos Bocas refinery, 35,000 jobs. We are now building the Mayan train, which is the biggest railroad works in the world because it’s 1,554 kilometers, 1,554 kilometers in five states of Mexico. All the Mayan region, which is one of the most important archeological zones of the world, well, there, people are working, building this railroad system. About 300,000 people are building the train. So, that’s really the option. That’s the path to follow; development, wellbeing.
And I insist, I repeat: I truly celebrate that the Canadian government and the US administration, as well, are now attending to the migration problem with this type of approach. It’s quite lamentable that there are others, other politicians, other presidents, and public officials who are acting in a very inhuman manner.
Right now, in this winter season, for instance, with all due respect, I’m not saying this in a very direct manner, but what I’m saying is that one of the governors of our neighboring country headed a movement to take migrants to New York, to Washington, and just drop them there. This is politicking. This is completely inhuman. This should not be done. Because there are those who forget that we are all migrants.
How is it that that great nation, the United States, was developed with migrants? Thanks to that, so then we have to continue seeking, looking for alternatives.
President Lopez Obrador (01:00:00):
Just as for instance also in the case of violence, we have to look into the root causes of violence. And also in the case of our country, youth were never cared for, no services for young people. The only thing that was done was called them young people who didn’t work, who didn’t study. This is a discriminatory labeling for youth. They don’t study, they don’t work. Nenes, they were called in Mexico. They don’t do one thing, they don’t do the other thing either. So no one was ever caring for our youth in Mexico.
All those young people, the only option they had was to migrate, and many migrated. Acting in a respectful manner, a very responsible fashion. Others as well, were trying to make a living because they didn’t have any other opportunities. So they made a living in what we call the informal economy, which is making a living out on the street, no matter what. Whichever way you can make a living without falling into illicit activities. However, unfortunately, many did go into the path of anti-social behaviors. But we didn’t really take care of young people in Mexico.
However, we now have a program devoted to young people. This program never existed in the past. There are 2.4 million young people who are being hired. They are working. They’re apprentices. What are we doing? We are taking away from them this culture, the seats, the reserves, the stock. We’re taking that away from criminal groups. We’re taking youth, we don’t want our youth to be hooked. We don’t want those criminal groups to be taking our youth away. We want to give them opportunities. That’s exactly what we’re doing in Mexico.
And let me conclude, also highlighting another difference, which is quite important. There is no corruption. And the administration, the government that I represent, there’s no impunity either. We have painted this line that is very clear. It’s one thing, and the authority is a different thing. There is no criminal association or partnership as before. Yes, we’re even ashamed to mention this, to mention that those who were in charge of guaranteeing or ensuring public security were at the service in the past were at the service of criminal organizations. This doesn’t happen in Mexico anymore.
That’s why in this meeting, this summit we just held today, all three governments of the three countries, we have reached agreements to continue working together to get peace, to have peace in all three countries, so that we can ensure and guarantee security of our peoples. That’s all I wanted to answer to your question, madam. Yes, we are doing that. Justice, I was telling you that in the case of migration, first there were brought brothers and sisters from Central America and also from Mexico. But now in recent times, a lot of migrants from Venezuela, from Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador. We do have a situation. These are changes in places where people being pushed to leave their towns, their place of origin for many reasons. With drugs, we have a changing point. It is not cannabis. It’s not marijuana. It’s not poppy. Not only cocaine either. Now, we have fentanyl and chemicals, which are some of the most dangerous type of substance and very harmful for people because they are causing so many deaths.
So then, we’re working on this in an organized manner in the case of Mexico. This led us to make all the ports and the customs officers to be controlled by the Armed Forces in Mexico. All the sea customs office because fentanyl and other chemicals come from Asia. They are processed in labs and we are avoiding the entrance of those chemical substances and we are destroying labs.
The Navy secretariat is in charge of managing ports and customs, sea customs officers. For instance, we had so much trafficking of chemical in the port of Manzanillo and also in Lázaro Cárdenas. Now, the Navy is in charge of controlling those customs. And all the customs, the land customs officers along the borderline are now under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense, National Defense Ministry. So we are combating fentanyl and those chemicals. And we are doing this because we care. Nothing human is alien to us. We truly care, being able to help and to be of help.
The situation in the United States, deaths because of overdose of fentanyl. But just as we discussed today, this is not the only an issue of the United States. The thing is that if we do not face this problem, this scourge, we are going to suffer it ourselves as well. So we have to act in a coordinated fashion and that is something we’ve been doing, and we discussed it in this summit. It is in the communique we are about to give you. We are defending life, the life.
As I was telling you, I was telling Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden, their teams, I was telling them as well, we only have two campaigns, publicity or propaganda campaigns in the government in my administration. One is dedicated or devoted to not consuming drugs, say no to drugs. Because we have to also think of that. It became quite a famous thing, public fame. Everything related to gangs. There are even series of gangs of organized crimes. And this is like an apology, of that which is desirable because there are residences, very rich homes in those series, very luxurious homes and the cars. Men, women, all very good looking, very handsome men and women, well-dressed, with jewelry all over the place, with a lot of power. And they pick up the phone and they call the head of the police force, head of the military, or even a president of a country, and that’s what’s being disseminated all over.
But we have seen a series on the damage caused by fentanyl. How in six months the life of a young person is destroyed and what those doses contain. They have muriatic acid. Do people inform about the situation? Do people let other people know about this? No, of course not.
So we are going to be launching an information campaign. As I was telling the president and the prime minister, I said vapors. They say, “Well, they’re not bad. They have five substances. That’s it. But they’re not bad.” We did some research on this, over 30 substances, harmful and cancer causing substances in those devices people smoke with.
However, because of the lobbying, corruption, corruption as well, the publicity or advertising management, then this is being allowed. And there are many parents and mothers, fathers who don’t even know the damage that their children are going through because of vapors. We have to look into this.
But really, this is not only the responsibility of the government, this is also the responsibility of the media. You can also help us so much on this, to spread the word, to inform people. Radio stations, television networks, they should be devoting time for this, to inform people, to guide people on this, on how bad drugs can be for people’s health. And that people can be successful and they can be happy without having, without needing to fall into drug addiction. Those immoral traps.
Well, all this, that’s what we’ve been discussing. I think I’m taking more than the time that I should have taken. It’s cold outside. Thank you so much everyone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Speaker 5 (01:13:05):
[foreign language 01:13:06].
Speaker 4 (01:13:05):
I want the record to show, I don’t know what questions I didn’t answer. I’m prepared later. Thank you very much.
Speaker 6 (01:13:40):
Down in the front.
Speaker 5 (01:13:40):
[foreign language 01:14:04].
President Lopez Obrador (01:14:11):
Thank you very much. We conclude this press conference. Thank you and have a wonderful afternoon.