Mexico has started deploying its National Guard to its southern border, as part of a bargain with Washington to do more to curb the flow of Central American migrants, or to endure threatened tariff hikes on its imports to the US.
Speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the roll-out of some 6,000 troops across its border with Guatemala had commenced and would “progress rapidly” over the “coming days.” It follows an agreement reached with the Trump administration on Friday, at which Mexico pledged to up its game in stemming the flow of migrants trying to get into US. The deal narrowly avoided Washington making good on its threat to slap Mexican imports with a 5 percent increase in duties, a sanction for its perceived inaction on the issue.
FILE PHOTO: Migrants form a chain in order to cross a river between Guatemala and Mexico, October 29, 2018 © Reuters / Leah Millis
Mexico has also agreed to have these efforts monitored over the next 45 days to see how effective they have been, with Ebrard noting “a lot of things have to happen” over that period.
He added that his ministry was already in talks with neighboring Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, from where most people are coming from, and a working group had been formed to discuss areas of cooperation on stopping the flow of people from Central America. Further details will be arranged with US immigration officials on Friday.
Joined by Ebrard was Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. On the subject of how Mexico would pay for the increased security, Obradror said the increased security would be in part paid for by the off-loading of the presidential jet and helicopters purchased by his predecessor. Worth a minimum of $150 million, the sale of the jet fulfils one of Obrador’s first promises to citizens following his election last year.
“We are selling all the planes and helicopters that the corrupt politicians used,” Obrador told a rally in December, much to the delight of his supporters.