Mexico’s president says 10,000 migrants a day head to US border; he blames US sanctions on Cuba

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Monday that about 10,000 migrants per day are heading to the U.S. border, and he blamed U.S. economic sanctions on countries like Cuba and Venezuela for the influx.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the number of migrants reaching Mexico’s northern border with the United States was partly due to about 6,000 migrants per day crossing into Mexico from Guatemala over the past week.

He said many of those migrants are traveling on a route through Central America that includes the jungle-clad Darien Gap region between Panama and Colombia.

López Obrador seemed to join Colombian President Gustavo Petro in blaming the situation on U.S. sanctions on countries like Venezuela and Cuba, whose citizens make up a large part of the migrant flow. Experts say economic mismanagement and political repression are largely to blame for the tide of migrants leaving those countries.

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The United States has sanctioned both governments over what it considers the suppression of democracy. López Obrador suggested the sanctions are because of ideological differences and not to uphold human rights, and said the “sanctions and blockades cannot be maintained.”

Petro’s government has been criticize d for doing little to stop the industrial-scale smuggling of migrants through Colombia. And López Obrador’s administration has done little to stop migrants from hopping freight trains toward the U.S. border, until the country’s largest railway line complained last month and stopped some trains itself, citing safety risks.

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López Obrador also has slammed U.S. aid for Ukraine and said the United States should spend some of the money sent to Ukraine on economic development in Latin America.

“They (the U.S.) don’t do anything,” he said Friday. “It’s more, a lot more, what they authorize for the war in Ukraine than what they give to help with poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

He called Friday for the U.S. “to remove blockades and stop harassing independent and free countries.” He said there should be “an integrated plan for cooperation so the Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Ecuadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans wouldn’t be forced to emigrate.”

There has been a surge in Venezuelan migrants moving through Mexico in recent weeks in a bid to reach the U.S. border. Many of the migrants say deteriorating economic and political conditions in their home country led them to make the journey.

Mexico has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but has adopted a policy of neutrality and has refused to participate in sanctions. Mexico also continues to buy 2020-vintage COVID vaccines from Russia and Cuba.

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