WASHINGTON, D.C. – Insufficient attention was paid during the recent meeting of Presidents Trump and López Obrador to a “humanitarian tragedy” occurring on the Texas-Tamaulipas border.

This is the view of Carlos Heredia, a Mexican economist and associate professor at the China Studies Unit of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City.

“What is happening at the Texas-Tamaulipas border? The number of people that are living there as part of the Remain in Mexico, euphemistically called Migrant Protection Protocol, is really a human tragedy, a humanitarian tragedy,” Heredia said, during a recent webinar hosted by the Mexico Institute.

The webinar was titled AMLO, Trump, and the Bilateral Relationship.

Heredia questioned whether Mexico really agreed to take Central American migrants as part of a deal with the United States.

“Supposedly that was part of an agreement. Mexico should have looked after those people, for shelter, for food, for healthcare. And none of that has happened. The asylum seekers have been totally abandoned to the hands of organized crime,” Heredia said.

“So one thing that maybe has supposedly been agreed, but what happens afterwards leaves us to believe, maybe it was not part of an agreement. Maybe it was part of an imposition.”

Heredia added: “Will the Central American migrants, will the asylum seekers continue to be seen and considered as bargaining chips instead of human people who have rights?”

Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute, moderated the webinar. Wood was largely sympathetic to Heredia’s analysis of the issue of asylum-seeking Central Americans being kept in Mexico. Wood said it was a crisis.

“It has not gone away. It may have been put on pause. The migrants that were there, on the Mexican side of the border, they seem to have disappeared. They are still there somewhere. It is a terrible humanitarian tragedy that we are seeing there,” Wood said.

Presidents Trump and López Obrador met in Washington, D.C., last week to coincide with the introduction of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade pact that has replaced NAFTA. Canadian President Justin Trudeau did not attend, saying he had scheduling conflicts. 

To mark AMLO’s visit to Washington, the Mexico Institute assembled a star-studded panel of experts on US-Mexico relations for its webinar. The panel consisted of Earl Anthony Wayne, a former U.S. Ambassador and Mexico Public Policy Fellow & Advisory Board Co-Chair at the Mexico Institute, Roberta Jacobson, a former U.S.-Ambassador to Mexico and Advisory Board Member at the Mexico Institute, Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernandez, a former U.S. ambassador to the United States and former managing director of the North American Development Bank, Alejandro Moreno, professor of political science at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), and Heredia.

Heredia kicked off the webinar by asking why López Obrador has changed.

“What has prompted him to go from a champion of workers rights to a president that is extremely cautious, not to annoy President Trump. And who chooses silence as a response to the any insults President Trump has pronounced over the last five years against Mexico and Mexicans. That is a question for political analysts and politicians and diplomats. And it will be for historians,” Heredia said.

Heredia’s biography

Carlos Heredia is a Mexican economist born in Tampico, Tamaulipas in 1956. Heredia served as a (PRD) Member of Mexico’s 57th Congress from 1997 to 2000.

He has held senior positions with Mexico’s Treasury Department and the Government of Mexico City. He was Senior Advisor on International Affairs to Lázaro Cárdenas-Batel, Governor of the State of Michoacán, from 2003 to 2008. He was the economic and international affairs spokesperson of the presidential campaign of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in 2000 and has since been his advisor in the Foundation for Democracy.

Carlos Heredia has worked for almost 30 years with development NGOs, including two of Mexico’s leading organizations of civil society, Equipo PUEBLO and Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo.

Heredia was part of the Independent Task Force on Building a North American Community, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2005. He is a member of the International Committee of the Latin American Migrant Community Summit. 

Since 2008 he has served on the Advisory Board of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

He is a founding member and current associate of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (Comexi) and served as its Vice president during 2003-2006. He served as the Co-Director of the Binational Task Force on the U.S.-Mexico Border, sponsored by Comexi and the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP) in 2009.

Heredia attended ITAM in Mexico City and graduated from McGill University in Montréal, Canada. He has taught at ITAM and the Tampico Campus of the Monterrey Tech.

Heredia has authored over 80 articles in specialized journals and half a dozen book chapters on economics, multilateral banks, foreign policy, international cooperation, international relations of subnational governments, migration, North American integration and Mexico-China bilateral relations. He writes a Sunday column for MILENIO and is a frequent commentator in Mexican news media, including W Radio.

He is currently an associate professor at the China Studies Unit of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Carlos Heredia.

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