Tuesday, May 18

López Obrador proposes to Biden to plant trees in Central America to stop migration and climate change


López Obrador, on his farm in Chiapas (southern Mexico).
López Obrador, on his farm in Chiapas (southern Mexico).Presidency Mexico

Andrés Manuel López Obrador insists that the solution to migration and climate change is in the trees. The Mexican president announced this Sunday that he will propose to the United States President, Joe Biden, an expansion of his tree planting program – known as Sembrando Vidas – to Central American countries. An alliance of this type, with which he has insisted since he began his government in 2018, would require financing that, until now, the US has not agreed to. For López Obrador, the planting of three million hectares in Central America would help stop migration to the United States, under the premise that it would create 1.3 million jobs in the region.

“This allows people not to be forced to emigrate, it helps the environment a lot (…) it would allow us to order the migratory flow, this past March, it overflowed. The worst thing is that polleros and human traffickers are suggesting that migrants bring children, something that makes me inhuman, cruel, undesirable, vile, ”he explained in a video recorded in the gardens of his farm in the southern state of Chiapas. The proposal would be presented at the virtual summit on climate change to which Biden has convened this week – Thursday and Friday – leaders of 40 countries, and which will serve as a preamble to the UN climate conference (COP26) scheduled for November in Glasgow.

The Mexican president had already made a similar proposal to the previous US president, Donald Trump, in a kind of Plan Marshall to advance, with the social programs of López Obrador, the Central American communities. Trump paid little attention to the Mexican proposal, so the government unilaterally undertook some of his ideas. For example, in July 2019, Mexico gave $ 30 million to El Salvador for the planting of fruit and timber trees in rural communities. Until now, the effects that these investments have had in the region are unknown. The Mexican government also reinforced security on the southern border with 10,000 members of the National Guard under pressure from the United States.

López Obrador’s proposal on this occasion adds a couple of prerogatives for migrants. Apply for six-month work visas in the United States for participants in the Sembrando Vida program, as well as a way to apply for United States citizenship. The proposals of the Mexican depart significantly from the panorama drawn by the Biden Administration. For weeks, the US government has been looking for an outlet to meet the asylum requests of migrants that have accumulated in recent years, while keeping its southern border closed for the reception of new applicants. López Obrador has also appealed for a regional agreement that includes Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America to address the migration crisis. “Why don’t we order the migratory flow and we complement each other,” he said.

Mexico’s participation in the summit on climate change occurs at a time when the López Obrador government’s commitment to the environment is widely questioned by experts and civil organizations in the country. Mexico has failed to commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions beyond 22%, the same figure it promised in 2015 when it joined the Paris Agreement. The Mexican government’s commitment was to increase its objectives every five years, however, the López Obrador Administration has not presented a plan to expand its objectives and meet them.

The Mexican president has spoken, among the cedar and mahogany trees on his farm, about committing to reducing hydrocarbon extraction and increasing investment in hydroelectric plants. Little more. Meanwhile, his Government maintains a fight against companies that invest in the generation of clean energy and with significant cuts in the budget dedicated to the environment. Criticism about the lack of a climate vision for his government grows once it has dedicated a good part of the public money to the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery (Tabasco) and the Mayan Train, in the Yucatan peninsula.

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