Biden administration backtracks on ‘democratic decline’ as root cause of migration

Biden administration backtracks on ‘democratic decline’ as root cause of migration

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The White House on Thursday issued a joint communiqué with Mexico that included “democratic decline” as a root cause of migration, and hours later deleted the phrase.

The Mexican version did not include the phrase but was otherwise an exact translation using the agreed-upon language.

The joint statement was the result of a meeting between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall.

Both countries agreed to continue working together to better control migration in the Western Hemisphere by addressing root causes, continuing to build legal pathways for migrants and disrupting human smuggling networks.

“The two countries reaffirmed their existing commitments on fostering an orderly, humane, and regular migration,” read the White House’s original statement. 

“This includes reinforcing our partnership to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty, inequality, democratic decline, and violence, and for the two countries’ initiative for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.”

The Mexican version, identical save for the phrase “democratic decline,” caused an uproar among the country’s opposition, which has raised red flags over López Obrador’s institutional reforms.

López Obrador has derided institutions such as the country’s independent electoral authority as “neoliberal,” “conservative” and too costly for the country, pushing reforms and budget cuts to weaken them.

To Mexico’s opposition, López Obrador’s actions are the very definition of “democratic decline.”

Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, the top foreign policy adviser to opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, accused Mexico’s government on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, of “shaving off” the term after the White House published its initial version.

But the White House reissued the English language version of the statement hours later, this time without “democratic decline.”

An official with knowledge of the talks told The Hill the language was added by U.S. officials after the meeting.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request from The Hill to clarify the reason for including or deleting the phrase.

Mexican officials had requested to include the U.S. embargo against Cuba and sanctions against Venezuela in the root causes section, but U.S. officials did not agree to that language, and it was not included in any of the three versions of the communiqué.

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