Colombia
With a visit to Colombia, López Obrador chooses Petro as his ally against the United States
This is the President's first trip to Latin America. He will try to seal a common agenda with Petro before the US elections.

After five years in office, and at a time when tensions with the United States are intensifying due to migratory flows and fentanyl trafficking, López Obrador will complete one of his few international trips with a visit to Colombia in September, a gesture that demonstrates the deep harmony he has with President Gustavo Petro.

The excuse for what will be the Mexican president's first trip to South America will be an anti-drug summit to be held between September 7 and 9 in Cali, but López Obrador will also make a state visit, so it is expected that he will have private and formal meetings with Petro. Then, he will fly to Chile, where he will participate in the commemorative acts for the 50th anniversary of the coup against the socialist Salvador Allende, one of his political muses throughout his career. His possible visits to Argentina and Brazil are still in doubt, since the first country will be in the middle of the presidential electoral campaign and with the second he expects Lula da Silva to visit Mexico first.

[La enviada de Biden le pedirá a López Obrador acelerar la extradición de Ovidio Guzmán]

The visit to Colombia includes several aspects, but the main one is that López Obrador aspires to deepen relationships and form a common axis with Colombia, a country that for the first time in its history has a progressive president and that, in addition, is facing problems similar to those of Mexico: a considerable increase in migratory flows and drug trafficking. All this, in a context of tension with the United States, which is demanding greater measures from the countries of the South against these two challenges and which is headed for presidential elections in 2024 with increasingly extreme positions within the Republican Party and the latent possibility of a return to the White House of Donald Trump.

López Obrador aspires to deepen relationships and form a common axis with Colombia, a country that for the first time in its history has a progressive president and that, in addition, is facing problems similar to those of Mexico: a considerable increase in migratory flows and drug trafficking, in a context of growing tension with the United States.

The meeting will seek to reach tools and agreements that make it possible to jointly face the new migratory flows that reach Río Grande, specially marked by people who come not so much from Mexico, but from countries in the South, such as Colombia, Venezuela or Haiti. In 2022, Bogotá registered a historic number of 547,000 individuals who left the country in search of a better future, that is, one in every 100 people. The economic crisis, the consequences of Covid-19 that still persist, and the intensification of the internal conflict with the different armed groups triggered a trend that has always existed in the country.

With a visit to Colombia, López Obrador chooses Petro as his ally against the United States

As a result, according to the professor and researcher at the EAFIT University of Colombia, Beatriz Bedoya, the presidents will seek to establish a series of "guidelines to guarantee Colombians treatment in accordance with a road map already worked on by the Foreign Ministries" and which will consist, among other things, of a prior register by the Mexican authorities, which will provide the necessary information. Likewise, she said that "there will also be a strengthening of information exchanges on security in databases and existing mechanisms" to make a safer trip characterized by the different dangers faced by people who decide to do so.

Another issue that will be discussed by the presidents is drug trafficking at a time when both Mexico and Colombia are facing serious problems that have a negative impact on relations with a strategic partner of both countries: the United States. On the one hand, Mexico fails to control the trafficking of fentanyl, an opioid that has already become the main cause of death for people between 18 and 40 years old in the northern country and that wreaks havoc in different cities where its consequences are seen on full daylight. On the other, Colombia registers historical figures of coca cultivation, which also reaches Washington and causes a new crisis in Ecuador, which registers an upsurge in violence.

Mexico fails to control the trafficking of fentanyl, an opioid that has already become the main cause of death for people between 18 and 40 years old in the northern country and Colombia registers historical figures of coca cultivation.

Despite the strong challenge involved in fighting drug trafficking, both leaders use the same policies and approaches: confronting the social problems that lead different sectors to produce and sell drugs based on a social and community policy that does not focus on force or military actions, but in poverty and inequality. "It is time to propose new strategies, perhaps more effective against drug trafficking," Petro said while he announced the visit of his counterpart and explained that during the summit there will be a meeting with experts who will analyze "what have been 50 years of the misnamed war against drugs."

In addition to facing a problem that is plaguing their respective countries, with an upsurge in violence both inside Mexico and Colombia, both leaders are looking for results that allow a better treatment of the future North American administration ahead of the 2024 elections in which the extremists positions of the Republican Party grow. For Beatriz Bedoya it will be important to reach "an agreement to defend common positions and reach agreements with Washington", because the White House still demands old measures that Bogotá rejects, such as the spraying of crops or the use of force to end the different links to the illegal traffic.

Both presidents will know that they do not have much time ahead of them when they meet in Colombia. The AMLO government is already on its way out, more focused on starting to dispute the next elections than on the day-to-day management, and the presidential elections in the United States are just around the corner with the latent possibility that the Republican Party returns to the White House with allies who propose to bomb drug crops or declare drug trafficking groups "terrorists." Anyway, better late than never.

Translator: Bibiana Ruiz. 

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