Despite tensions, Mexico engages with Trump administration

Despite tensions, Mexico engages with Trump administration

The Mexican government and political parties are dispatching their top officials to Washington to get a foot in the door with the Trump administration, even as tensions rise between the two nations.

Just over the past week, three members of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s cabinet visited Washington, as did Margarita Zavala, a former first lady with presidential aspirations.

And next week, the early frontrunner for next year’s presidential election, left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will travel to D.C.

While the future of the Mexico-U.S. relationship is uncertain given President Trump’s tough rhetoric and campaign promises, bilateral ties are a top issue in Mexican politics.

“If we didn’t consider this relationship important, this room wouldn’t be full,” Zavala told a packed house at the Atlantic Council Tuesday.

Newly installed Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray took a last-minute trip to Washington this week to air grievances over the Trump administration’s immigration policies. He met with some of Trump’s top officials at the White House – National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

“It’s important to underline that we’ve always had great openness from the American government toward Mexico’s positions. We have differences that are clear, that are public, that are notorious,” Videgaray said in a press conference after the meeting.

Videgaray voiced his opposition to the administration’s plan to deport some Central American undocumented immigrants to Mexico and a proposal to separate parents and children caught crossing the border illegally.

Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo also held a long meeting with Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this week. The pair struck a collegial tone at a Friday press conference.

“These discussions are the beginning of our work together on day-to-day issues that arise from our close relationship,” Ross said.

And Mexican Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade met his U.S. counterpart, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on Tuesday.

But despite the meetings, Zavala…