Mexico presidential debate: ‘US needs Mexico as well’

Second presidential debate ahead of July 1 elections was dominated by discussion on Mexico’s relationship with the US.

Independent candidate Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, Ricardo Anaya, Jose Antonio Meade and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pose in Tijuana [Reuters]
Independent candidate Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, Ricardo Anaya, Jose Antonio Meade and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pose in Tijuana [Reuters]

Mexico’s relationship and politics towards the United States were the central topics in the country’s second presidential debate.

All of the candidates insisted the relationship must be based on mutual respect.

Hosted in the border city of Tijuana on Sunday, the debate focussed on trade, migrants, jobs, salaries, the Mexico-US border and the fight against criminal gangs.

The town-hall forum, moderated by Mexican journalists Yuriria Serra and Leon Krauze, allowed the candidates to connect with the audience, which could ask the candidates questions.


Four candidates took part in the debate.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 64, is polling at least 41.5 percent support in his third bid for the presidency, according to

Ricardo Anaya, 39, heads a right-left alliance and is in the second place with at least 26.7 percent.

Jose Antonio Meade, a former finance minister representing the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, is in the third place.

The fourth candidate, Jaime Rodriguez “Bronco”, an independent, has thus far only seen single-digit support in the polls.

Below a review of their key quotes on the main topics:

Relationship with the US

  • Obrador: “The best foreign policy is the domestic one, if [the US] is threatening us with a wall, and with the militarisation of the border … what we have to do is strengthen [our] economy. We are going to support the migrants. We agree with NAFTA and we must take advantage of the relationship with the US.”

  • Anaya: “Mexico does a lot for the US … Mexico needs the US, but US needs Mexico as well … why do we request visas to the countries that are antagonists of the US, just so that they have better control, how many terrorists have entered the US from Mexico, zero! We will put all in the table, we will be firm,” he said.
  • Bronco: “We need to put a limit to the Americans… we need to speak clearly to President Trump…. I will negotiate … regarding NAFTA we never negotiated the oil … I’ll put that in a second round of negotiations.”

  • Meade defended President Nieto’s decision to invite Trump to Mexico during the US presidential campaign in 2016: “Judging by the results the President Pena Nieto didn’t make a mistake. President Trump already went out of the Iranian deal … he went out of the Paris accord. Today we are still negotiating NAFTA, and we are doing a great effort … what works is diplomacy not ‘spoiled’ answers.”

Salaries and jobs

  • Meade: “Trade and investment have to serve to close gaps, we have a great distance between the north and the south … men and women … Mexican who have a lot and those who have nothing … We have to close those gaps … and that’s what trade and investment are for … we have to improve and work so that the distance between North and South becomes shorter…”

  • Obrador: “We have to raise the salaries in Mexico … in the US our people can earn 10 times more than what they earn here… we can’t talk about a commercial deal if we don’t have [a balance] in salaries.”

  • Anaya: “I have two concrete proposals increase the minimum wage to 100 pesos ($5), and increase it again in the first four years of my mandate.. and to all of those who earn less than 10,000 pesos ($501) make a regulation so they don’t pay income taxes.”

  • Bronco: “With 100 pesos ($5) you can’t do much … you need 335 ($16) pesos so that people can have a possibility of a normal life … we need to raise these salaries … and raise them to 335 pesos.”


  • Anaya: “For there to be security we have to fight corruption, many times the police are with the bad guys, although there are also very good people, we are going to attack the causes, promote sports, and culture, and demand that the United States to do its part.”
  • Bronco: “Mexico is tired, of all these proposals, I’m the only candidate of the four who lives in the north, we have to end this forcefully.”

  • Meade: “Big part of the problem has to do with the arms that reach to the thieves hands, and another big part has to do with impunity … To prevent weapons from arriving, we have to make our customs impenetrable, and I promise to do it.”

  • Obrador: “In the country, the countryside is abandoned, the best way to face insecurity and violence is to fight poverty and end corruption and mafia … So that in … Guerrero, they are not forced to plant [drugs] but corn …”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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