Mexico's president did not discuss border wall with Trump

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he has not discussed a proposed border wall with President Donald Trump, as the U.S. leader seemingly backtracked on threats to make Mexico pay for the controversial project.

“We have not discussed that issue, in any conversation. ... It was a respectful and friendly conversation,” Lopez Obrador told reporters following a tweet in which the U.S. president said a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada would cover the cost of a wall.

The two leaders spoke by telephone on Wednesday. Lopez Obrador said they discussed the possibility of creating a joint program for development and job creation in Central America and Mexico.

One of Trump’s key campaign promises was to build the border wall and he had long pledged that Mexico — not U.S. taxpayers — would fund it.

In a Twitter post early on Thursday, Trump again insisted that Mexico will foot the bill for the border wall.

He wrote that payment will begin with savings for the United States as a result of the renegotiated trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada. “Just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”

Mexico has repeatedly rejected Trump’s demand that it pay for the project, and it is unlikely the country’s new president will reverse that course.

Funding for the border wall has been a sticking point in spending bills before the U.S. Congress, and Trump clashed with leading Democrats over the issue during an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.

One of them, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, taunted Trump over his Mexico claim later on Thursday.

“Mr. President: If you say Mexico is going to pay for the wall (which I don’t believe), then I guess we don’t have to! Let’s fund the government,” Schumer retorted in his own Twitter post.

Lopez Obrador said he also discussed a possible meeting with Trump in Washington.

“He invited me. I’m also able to go to Washington, but I think that both for him and for us there must be a reason and I think the most important thing would be to sign this agreement or meet with that purpose,” said Lopez Obrador.

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Mexico: Attack on Migrants, Woman Dead, Child Among 3 Injured

A group of hooded men intercepted a truck with several migrants and then fired on them killing a woman and injuring a child among several others, in Veracruz, Mexico.

On Saturday, an attack by hooded men on a group of Central American undocumented migrants traveling north by truck through Veracruz left one woman dead, and three injured, including a child.

RELATED: Mexico's Court Blocks AMLO Bill to Cut Public Sector Salaries

María Herlinda was killed; Karen Paola Benavides, 31; Rosalia Lopez, 32; Hamilton Soco, 26; and Robin Joel, three, were injured during the attacks.

The migrants were all Guatemalan nationals risking their lives to make it to the United States like the many other Central American migrants whose struggle has made history in recent months.

The hooded people carried “large weapons” and traveled “extra-officially” on a vehicle which read “police,” according to locals who reported on the incident. At the moment, there are no official reports which can confirm the type of weapons used to harm the migrants or the identity of the perpetrators.

The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH, for its acronym in Spanish) expressed its “staunch condemnation,” for the acts of violence against migrants in Veracruz.

The CNDH highlighted that this is the first homicide registered since the migrant caravans’ transit in Mexico. For this reason, it ordered a full investigation to clarify all details concerning the attack and to “find those responsible so they can be taken to law enforcement entities to receive the corresponding punishment.”

The Commission also indicated that there may be possible human rights violations by local authorities who were tasked to protect migrants, for not “giving the cautionary measures which were reiterated in many occasions by the CNDH from the beginning of the migrant exodus, some of which were directed toward state, public, and municipal servants from Veracruz.”

According to the United Nation, over 3,300 migrants from the Central American Caravans are currently seeking asylum in Mexico. The Mexican government reports that nearly 8,250 migrants have entered the country since Oct. 19.

 
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Mexico: President AMLO's Inaugural Speech Offers 'New Hope'

After receiving the presidential sash in the Mexican National Congress, President Lopez Obrador gave a speech outlining an ambitious and encouraging government plan, based on bids to slash corruption, overturn neoliberalism and make important public investments.

RELATED: 'Neoliberalism Has Been a Calamity:' Mexico's AMLO Sworn In

AMLO started his speech by thanking outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto: "Mainly I recognize the fact of him not having intervened, as did other presidents, in the last presidential elections."

AMLO had previously claimed that the last two presidential elections were stolen from him. It is a good thing that the Mexican authorities, especially "the acting president, respect the will of the people," he said. 

"By mandate of the people, we begin today the fourth transformation of Mexico." AMLO wants to trigger a turning point in Mexican history that would be comparable to three other historic moments: Independence, a movement mainly led by Miguel Hidalgo, which liberated Mexico from around 300 years of Spanish domination; the Reform, a struggle between liberals and conservatives, which gave the "laws of the Reform" (one of the most important was the separation of the Church from the State, mainly protagonized by Benito Juarez); and the Mexican Revolution, a war to end the 30-year regime of Porfirio Diaz, after which the current Mexican Constitution was established.

AMLO has long talked about the fourth transformation of Mexico, in which he aims to change the political regime. Saturday, he said, started a "peaceful and orderly transformation, but at the same time deep and radical because it will end corruption and impunity that prevent the rebirth of Mexico."

AMLO's narrative, from before being elected president, has had the fight against corruption as one of its central pillars. "The crisis in Mexico was originated not only by the failures of the neoliberal economic model applied during the last 36 years, but also by the predominance, during this period, of the most filthy corruption, both public and private." Nothing has damaged Mexico more than the corruption of the people governing the country, and that tiny minority that profits from influences and "lobby."

"Neoliberalism is corruption,"he continued. "It sounds strong, but privatization in Mexico has meant corruption." Economic management during the neoliberal period, from 1983-2018, "has been the most inefficient of Mexico's modern history." Adding to this, due to the concentration of wealth in a "few hands, the majority of the population has been impoverished."

President Lopez Obrador emphatically distanced himself from the 40 years of neoliberal politics that have led Mexico into unprecedented economic crisis. "I say it without ideology: neoliberal politics has been a disaster, a calamity for the public life of the country. For example, the energy reform they said would come to save us has only caused the lesser production of oil and the excessive price increase of energy."

The energy reform, approved in 2013 by his predecessor Peña Nieto's government, translated into the gradual privatization of oil in Mexico, one of the only countries in Latin America that previously had full control of this natural resource, expropriated in 1938 by Lazaro Cardenas.

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Crime menaces migrants on Mexico border as Tijuana declares crisis

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants risk falling victim to crime in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where thousands of Central Americans from caravans may be stuck for months as authorities tighten up asylum rules, advocates say.

Some 4,600 migrants from the bedraggled caravans whose advance has angered U.S. President Donald Trump are camped out with blankets and little food in an overcrowded stadium in Tijuana, whose mayor has declared a “humanitarian crisis.”

Trump has sent troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, authorized the use of lethal force and threatened to shut down the frontier entirely if the migrant caravans are not stopped.

Among the Central Americans, many of whom are Hondurans fleeing violence and poverty in the struggling region, are about 80 minors between the ages of 10 and 17, according to migrants rights groups.

Josue, a 15-year-old Honduran in Tijuana, said that during a previous attempt to cross into the United States last year he was kidnapped and badly beaten in Mexico by drug traffickers claiming to be from the notorious Zetas gang.

“I ended up in the hospital, I don’t know how, because I arrived there half-dead,” he said, declining to give his second name.

Once he was well enough, authorities deported him, he said.

Reuters was not able to independently corroborate details of his story. Mexico’s immigration institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case.

Tijuana was rated by Mexican think tank Seguridad Justicia y Paz as the fifth most violent city in the world in 2017, with a higher murder rate than the Central American cities from which the migrants are escaping.

Juan Manuel Gastelum, Tijuana’s mayor, said late on Thursday that the city was facing a humanitarian crisis and that supporting the migrants was costing more than 500,000 pesos ($25,000) a day. He urged international agencies to help Tijuana.

WAITING LIST

Activists fear the Central Americans could be stranded for a long time in the city, where some protests against the presence of the caravan have broken out.

In May, citing a lack of processing space at the same crossing, U.S. immigration officials stalled a previous caravan that also drew Trump’s anger. Eventually, they began letting in a trickle of people from the group.

To manage flows of asylum claimants, Mexican and U.S. authorities have in recent years maintained a waiting list. Lawyers and human rights group Amnesty International have said such measures slow the process.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement sent to Reuters that the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which connects Tijuana to San Diego in California, could process up to 100 people per day and that it was working with Mexico to manage the flow.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said it protects the rights of all foreigners and was “respectful of immigration policy implemented by other countries.”

Stalled for days, migrants from the caravan have been signing onto the waiting list. They include gay and transgender teenagers.

Erika Pinheiro, director of litigation at Al Otro Lado, an immigration legal advocacy group, last week told a Californian court under oath that “LGBT children cannot safely stay in Mexico. They are at risk of violence and persecution.”

Tijuana has just one shelter for migrant children, which subsists with the help of civic organizations.

“Young people are definitely the most vulnerable in this type of movement,” said Mynor Contreras, who runs the local YMCA. “We’ve never received so many in such a short time.”

If the children cannot enter the United States, they risk being deported from Mexico. That can spell big trouble.

“I don’t want to die,” said 16-year-old Justin, who related how his life was threatened last month for not paying a “war tax” that gangsters charged for his small used-clothing business in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. “That day I told my mother to give me her blessing and I left,” he said, crying.

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Drug Trafficking Economy in Mexico Reports Billions in Revenues

In Mexico, a drug trafficking economy has taken roots and generates annual revenues of 600 billion pesos (more than 31 billion dollars).

That sum was disclosed in a research on the country's new development strategy that involved 477 experts and researchers from several universities, led by Jose Luis Calva, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The resources moved by organized crime, through drug trafficking, equal the sales from several industries that operate here legally, Calva explained in an interview with the newspaper La Jornada.

In a chain that goes from the crops to drug peddling on the streets, this drug trafficking economy generates revenues of 800 billion to one million people involved in that activity.

Calva referred to statistics provided by the US Department of State to say that in organized crime, 'illegal drug sales generate annual gross revenues of 600 billion pesos to the Mexican cartels.'

The same source, he added, notes that the Mexican drug cartels receive 19,000-39,000 million dollars a year from the United States.

For the sake of comparison, the scholar recalled that family remittances to Mexico amount to 22 billion dollars a year, according to the Bank of Mexico.

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Mexico City waits for about 5,000 Migrants

Mexico, Nov 5 (Prensa Latina) Mexico City (CDMX) hopes to provide shelter to about 5,000 Central American migrants who are now moving from the south of the country, and of whom several hundred have already arrived in this capital, which suffers water shortage.

The president of CDMX, Nashieli Ramirez Hernandez, reported that all will be sheltered in the stadium 'Jesus Martinez Palillo', in the Magdalena Mixhuca, in the Iztacalco city hall.

Ramirez pointed out that there are already hundred caravan members, 30 percent of whom are women, but there are also many minors.

It is estimated that the last part of this caravan will arrive Tuesday or Wednesday, the first of four that have entered the country.

He said that the five thousand caravanners that are expected to be housed in the sports facility will have about 500 assistants to ensure their food, health and shelter.

Ramirez acknowledged that he does not know how long they will remain in the capital, but the authorities have prepared themselves in case they stay 'at least a week.

People Without Borders, an organization that accompanies the caravan, announced that at CDMX the caravan members will have seminars so that they are prepared for when they reach the border with the United States and defend their rights before the immigration officials of the northern country, whose president, Donald Trump, ordered the deployment of military personnel in the area.

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The U.S. and the Center American Exodus

The migration of Center Americans, mainly toward the United States has won visibility thanks to the current caravan crossing Mexico, but this is an old phenomenon.

In 2017 the UN agency International Organization for Migration informed that 450 thousand migrants, mainly Central Americans, cross Mexico yearly heading for the United States. This phenomenon boomed in the 80’s of the last century as a consequence of Washington’s massive support to the armies and repressive forces of El Salvador and Guatemala in their bloody war against the liberating movements in those countries which, next to Honduras, were deeply affected. The war originated, mainly in El Salvador, a great flow of refugees, among them thousands of young orphans.

It was not the first, neither the last time when the North American imperialism intervened in Central American countries. Since early in the XX century Washington sent several times marines to impose its wishes in that region of our America. It’s well known the heroic deeds of Agusto Cesar Sandino and his “small crazy army” against the Yankee military intervention early on the XX century in Nicaragua.

Decades later, that country and the Sandinista Liberation Front government would suffer an implacable and bloody aggression by Ronald Reagan’s government. An counterrevolutionary army organized and armed illegally by United States was supplied by air from Honduras in a CIA operation, the Iran-Contras, implemented from there by terrorists of Cuban origin. The airplanes came loaded with weapons from North American territory and returned with drugs to that country. At the same time, that agency created the Death Squads which, causing serious human rights violations, kept in line the Honduran revolutionaries. In 1989, George Bush father ordered the deadly Panama invasion with a total of 3000 killed.

In 2009, from the Military Base of Soto Cano, in Honduras, where the Bravo Task Force of the South Command of the United States, this triggered the coup d’état against president Manuel Zelaya. That action is closely related to the facts that have led to the massive migration of Central Americans. Zelaya entered ALBA and established a flowing cooperation relationship with Venezuela with Chavez in power. He was able to get OAS to lift the exclusion of Cuba in a general assembly of that organization and he was attempting to organize a constituent assembly to transfer to the Honduran people control over their national sovereignty as well as their natural resources. None of this was tolerable for Washington that not only ordered the coup but did everything in its power to consolidate it. Ever since every election in Honduras have been a fraud, including the one that elected the current president Juan Orlando Hernández. Zelaya, allied to the Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua would have been an obstacle for the plans of looting and territorial expansion through mining transnational and the so-called Special Economic Zones.

The sparks of the current and unstoppable migratory movement was the stanch application in Central America of the neoliberal politics designed by the so-called Washington Consent which has become more and more bloody and unsustainable. The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are being subjected to a second conquest and colonization, through transnational companies and the militarization displayed by the United States which includes the presence of military bases in our countries. Satellites governments of the imperialism offer every possibility to transnational companies in their expansion plans of accelerated use of natural resources and overexploitation of the labor force. All of it through the spoiling of lands and waters from indigenous communities, afro descendants and peasants, repressed, when they rebel, not only by the security bodies. Also, frequently, by the so-called organized crime well-paid in return. Also the breaking of productive chains that has led to the deindustrialization and loss of dozens of thousands of jobs.

This neoliberal aggression to the previous ways of capitalist productive organization, dragging unemployment and collapse of the social fabric is the main cause of the growing migration and forced exodus of millions of people toward the United States. The unstoppable peak of criminal organizations and brutal violence against peoples and communities makes it worse. The performance map is superimposed to that of the megaprojects of neoliberalism 3.0.

It’s not in Caracas, it’s in Washington, where for some time now is looming the migratory tragedy of Center America and Mexico.

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Migrant Caravan Infiltrated By "Middle Easterners," Alleges Donald Trump

Huixtla, Mexico: Thousands of mainly Honduran migrants heading to the United States -- a caravan President Donald Trump has called an "assault on our country" -- stopped to rest Tuesday after walking for two days into Mexican territory.

Sleeping on cardboard boxes or plastic bags, the migrants set up a massive, impromptu camp in the southern town of Huixtla, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the Mexico-Guatemala border.

Many nursed bleeding feet mangled by days of walking in plastic shoes or flip-flops.

"They're exhausted," said migrant rights activist Rodrigo Abeja, of the group Pueblos Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), which is accompanying the caravan.

"They're going to rest here today and tonight," and then continue their journey north, he told AFP.

The caravan has become a politically loaded issue, with only two weeks to go before the United States votes in key midterm elections, in which Trump is seeking to protect the Republican majority on Capitol Hill.

Trump has taken to attacking the caravan regularly -- both on Twitter and on the campaign trail -- firing up his conservative base with the anti-immigration rhetoric that helped get him elected in 2016.

On Monday, Trump said the US would start cutting aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for failing to stop the migrants, called the caravan a national emergency and alleged it was infiltrated by "Middle Easterners" and members of the ultra-violent gang MS-13.

Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete vowed his country would not bow to "any government that intends to provoke a hostile reaction in Mexico."

However, activists accused Mexico of violating the migrants' rights by detaining anyone who tried to apply for asylum.

Swelling Numbers

More than 7,000 people have now joined the caravan, according to the United Nations, including some Central Americans who were already in Mexico.

Many of the migrants are fleeing poverty and insecurity in Honduras, where powerful street gangs rule their turf with brutal violence.

Late Monday, Mexico allowed another group of about 400 migrants to enter the country after they spent days packed onto a bridge over the Suchiate River, which forms Mexico's southern border with Guatemala.

The caravan had stormed through a series of border barriers Friday and flooded onto the bridge, but hundreds of Mexican riot police blocked their passage.

Most of the migrants then swam or took rafts across the river, but one group had remained camped out on the bridge.

"The (Mexican) foreign ministry argued we shouldn't leave them there exposed to the elements," national migration commissioner Gerardo Garcia told AFP.

Another group of about 1,000 Hondurans has meanwhile started a separate march across Guatemala, headed for Mexico and then the United States.

Dangerous Journey

The Honduran ambassador in Mexico, Alden Rivera, said the main caravan planned to make its way across Chiapas -- the southern state where it was Tuesday -- to Oaxaca, Veracruz and Tamaulipas, where it would try to cross the US border at McAllen, Texas.

That is the shortest possible route, he said -- about 2,700 kilometers.

But "it's possible that, depending on the reaction from the National Migration Institute and federal police (in Mexico), they could go elsewhere," he told a Mexican radio station.

The migrants -- who set out on October 13 from San Pedro Sula, Honduras -- have been traveling on foot or hitching rides on passing cars and trucks, often crowding onto them with little to hold onto.

One 25-year-old migrant was killed Monday, apparently when he fell off a vehicle that had let him hitch a ride, said state authorities in Chiapas.

Honduras reported another migrant died Saturday when he fell off a vehicle while crossing Guatemala.

Caravan members also face the threat of being robbed, kidnapped or killed by Mexican gangs that extort migrants on their journey.

Caravan Of Children

Humanitarian organizations estimate that one-fourth of the caravan's members are children, a representative of Save the Children told AFP.

Guadalupe Del Carmen, 29, who is traveling with her nine-year-old son, recounted the difficulty of the journey -- such as the moment her son started to cry, "Mommy, I don't want to do this anymore" while crossing the Suchiate River on a raft made of inner tubes.

"He wanted to go back to Honduras. But I explained we can't go back, that the situation in our country is too difficult and that's why we had to run away," she said quietly.

With a homicide rate of 43 per 100,000 citizens, Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world, according to a Honduran university study.

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