Less than 48 hours ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the US Congress, directly appealing to President Biden to do even more to support Ukraine. Following the emotional speech, Biden announced $800 million in additional military support to Ukraine. Later today, the president will speak with China’s Xi Jinping about the conflict, and he plans to travel to Europe next week for an in-person discussion with allies.
It’s now been nearly a month since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbor, leading to massive devastation and a humanitarian crisis that has already forced over 3 million Ukrainians to flee the country. For the latest developments, you can click here.
In early March, Mexico joined the United Nations resolution to condemn Russia. However, unlike the U.S. and its NATO allies, President Andres Manuel López Obrador said that Mexico will not impose sanctions on Russia and he denied Ukrainia’s request for military assistance. Even though the conflict has led global oil prices to skyrocket, López Obrador has pledged that the state-owned oil giant PEMEX will not raise fuel prices.
The war in Ukraine comes at a contentious political moment for Mexico’s president. Experts have increasinglyexpressed concerns about the current state of Mexico’s democracy, going so far as to encourage the U.S. to more directly engage with Mexico’s political leaders and civil society activists. López Obrador has increasingly challenged autonomous public institutions, human rights and anti-corruption organizations, and media outlets critical of his administration.
In the last month, López Obrador’s approval rating dropped to 58 percent, likely due to recent scandals close to home. This is an all-time low for his presidency, yet still a fairly high rating for a global leader. And in just a few weeks, on April 10th, Mexican voters will head to the polls to vote in a referendum on López Obrador’s presidency, which is expected to turn out in his favor. And in the June gubernatorial elections, the president’s coalition appears poised to gain state houses.
The murders of eight Mexican journalists so far this year has drawn international attention to Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern andthe European Union Parliament passed an official resolution condemning violence against journalists.
On security, last Sunday Mexican authorities arrested a high-profile leader of the Noreste cartel in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and deported him to the US. After meeting with a US delegation this week, Mexico reiterated its commitment to the new Bicentennial Framework, a step in the right direction for bilateral security cooperation that had markedly deteriorated.
Mexico’s economy has faced an uneven recovery. Inflation in February hit its highest point in more than two decades, accelerating faster than previously projected. Mexico’s Central Bank now forecasts that GDP will grow 2.4 percent in 2022, compared to its prior estimate of 3.2 percent. Various experts have attributed this slow economic rebound to Mexico’s policy direction in areas as diverse as energy, trade, and the limited fiscal response to the pandemic.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projects that Mexico’s economy willreturn to pre-pandemic levels by this year’s third quarter, due to growth in U.S. consumer demand and an upswing in Mexico’s labor market. In 2021, remittances to Mexico reached a record $51.6 billion, a 27 percent increase from 2020, providing a boost for the country’s consumerbase.
Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with the Mexican government in Mexico City about stopping the high flow of migrants arriving at the southern border amid rising food and energy prices. Last week, the U.S. Center for Disease Controls terminated the use of the Title 42 public health authority for the expulsion of unaccompanied children at the border and is reportedly considering whether to end the policy altogether.
Here at White and Case Mexico City we’ll be closely tracking the latest developments to support our clients’ business interests in-country. Lastly, I’d like to single out White & Case’s Latin America Energy and Infrastructure Practice’s excellent work across key industries in 2021. The team was recently honored in Proximo’s “Deals of the Year” ceremony.