Mexico's López Obrador kicks off U.S. tour in Los Angeles

Andrés Manuel López Obrador rallied his supporters in Los Angeles and slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's anti-immgration rhetoric and plans to build a wall along the southern border
Photo: Yadín Xolalpa / EL UNIVERSAL
13/02/2017
12:32
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Mexico's home-grown populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador rallied his supporters in Los Angeles on Sunday February 12 and slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's anti-immgration rhetoric and plans to build a wall along the southern border.

The veteran politician, whose U.S. visit came as thousands took to the streets in cities across Mexico to protest against Trump, is looking to tap into widespread discontent with Mexico's ruling party and the resentment toward the new U.S. leader in order to make a bid for the center ground, raising his chances of winning the Mexican presidency next year.

"My countrymen and women, I must confess that I am optimistic. I think the wall and the demagoguery of patriotism are no match for the dignity and humanity of the American people. I'm sure that strong arguments and the strength of public opinion will make those who are like Donald Trump and like to use threats and force, will see sense. My friends, here in the state of California, a refuge and blessing for immigrants, I say long live California," López Obrador told a crowd of some 500 supporters who turned out in downtown Los Angeles to cheer him on.

"So when they want to build a wall to segregate populations, or when the word 'foreigner' is used to insult, denigrate and discriminate against our fellow human beings, it goes against humanity, it goes against intelligence and against history," he added.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Trump have been locked in battle over their countries' deep ties for months, even before Trump won the presidency with promises to get tougher on immigration and trade from Mexico.

Mexico fears Trump's policies could send Latin America's second biggest economy into crisis.

Pledging to run a tight budget without raising taxes, López Obrador defended the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump has threatened to tear up. The NAFTA deal has long been a target of Mexico's left, but that position has changed given the potential for economic upheaval if Trump follows through on his threat.

"If it were true that NAFTA only benefits Mexico, our economy would remain stagnant and there wouldn't be any immigration," López Obrador told supporters.

Three weeks into his administration, Trump has vowed to move ahead with construction of his signature border wall, which he has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for, as well as signaling a new push to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants from the country.

"Immigrants are not your enemies but are your brothers and sisters, admirable human beings who like the founders of this great country, had to leave their countries of origin because of necessity, I repeat, not because they wanted to but because of necessity," said López Obrador.

"If the Mexican government does not put before the United Nations in the coming days a complaint about the violation of human rights then we will do it ourselves. We demand that the universal declaration of human rights be fulfilled which was signed by all governments who promised to respect it, including the government of the United States," he added.

 

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