Tue | Dec 5, 2023

President slams US aid for Ukraine and sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba

Published:Saturday | September 30, 2023 | 12:07 AM
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador


Mexico’s president on Friday slammed US aid for Ukraine and economic sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba and other nations as the first of two high-level US-Mexico meetings got under way in Washington.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a broad criticism of US foreign policy, saying US economic sanctions were forcing people to emigrate from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The harsh comments came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai were meeting their Mexican counterparts at the State Department.

Yesterday’s talks will focus on commerce and trade issues but Blinken will lead a US delegation to Mexico next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that will focus on border security and migration.

The State Department said in a statement that Blinken would be meeting López Obrador during the October 4-5 trip.

Experts say economic mismanagement and political repression are largely to blame for the tide of migrants leaving Venezuela and Cuba.

López Obrador said the United States should spend some of the money sent to Ukraine on economic development in Latin America.

“They (the US) don’t do anything,” he said. “It’s more, a lot more, what they authorise for the war in Ukraine than what they give to help with poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

He called for a US programme “to remove blockades and stop harassing independent and free countries, an integrated plan for cooperation so the Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Ecuadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans wouldn’t be forced to emigrate”.

There has been a surge in Venezuelan migrants moving through Mexico in recent weeks in a bid to reach the US border. Many of the migrants say deteriorating economic and political conditions in their home country led them to make the journey.

Mexico has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but has adopted a policy of neutrality and has refused to participate in sanctions. Mexico also continues to buy 2020-vintage COVID-19 vaccines from Russia and Cuba.

The Mexican president laughed off an effort by US Republican lawmakers to cut the tiny amount of foreign aid the US gives to Mexico. López Obrador estimated it involved US$40 or US$50 million, calling it “ridiculous”.