Mexico Stands Firm Ahead of U.S. Talks
Plus: Sudan's military council calls off the transition deal, China's Tiananmen anniversary, and the other stories we're following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Mexico draws a line ahead of talks with the United States, Sudan’s ruling military council cracks down violently and throws out its deal with the opposition, and China censors the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen.
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Mexico Prepares for U.S. Negotiations
Mexico set some boundaries ahead of high-level talks in Washington this week to address U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to raise tariffs if Mexico does not curb migration. Speaking on Monday, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard rejected the idea that Mexico be designated a “safe third country”—a proposal that would force asylum seekers to settle there rather than applying in the United States.
Trump’s proposed tariffs, applied on all Mexican imports, would start at 5 percent on June 10 and eventually increase to 25 percent. For Mexico, that means a cost of around $1 billion in the month of June alone. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials will meet Ebrard in Washington on Wednesday, with Mexico hoping for compromise.
Where Mexico draws the line. Mexico has already made some concessions to the United States on immigration, including allowing asylum seekers to await a U.S. decision on the Mexican side of the border. It contends the tariffs could cause further migration. “There is a clear limit to what we can negotiate, and the limit is Mexican dignity,” Martha Bárcena, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States said Monday.
What the U.S. wants. Trump did not set a benchmark or specifics for the migration slowdown. Expect administration officials to focus on Mexico’s domestic terrorist groups and its border with Guatemala. Some Republicans say Trump is unlikely to follow through on the tariffs, as they could undermine plans to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Market effects. Financial analysts will be watching Wednesday’s meeting closely. Trump’s threat caused stocks to fall, and economists project a 70 percent chance that the initial tariff hike will go forward. If it does, Mexico’s economy—heavily dependent on exports to the United States—would suffer. U.S. consumers would also bear the cost, on goods ranging from packaged foods to car parts.
What We’re Following Today
Deal called off in Sudan after violence. Sudan’s transitional military council has canceled all agreements made with the opposition and called for snap elections after deadly violence. At least 35 people were killed on Monday when security forces broke up the main protest camp ahead of prayers for Eid al-Fitr. Witnesses claimed that the shots were fired by soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group led by deputy military leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, widely known as Hemeti. The military and the opposition had agreed to a three-year transition period before reaching an impasse.
With the sit-in broken up, the removal of the military council will be the protesters’ “number one demand,” Ahmed Kodouda, a doctoral candidate at George Washington University, tells FP’s Jefcoate O’Donnell. “[A]t this stage, the revolutionaries on the ground are willing to organize and go back to their tactics prior to April 6,” when the sit-in began.
Tiananmen anniversary censored. Today marks 30 years since the Chinese military crushed pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, and the government has enforced tough censorship of information related to the anniversary of the event, which remains taboo. Such control is evidence of the Chinese Communist Party’s strength, Michael Auslin argues for FP. “It only underscores the magnitude of the CCP’s victory over history to note that its fears of revolution today are likely unfounded,” he writes.
Trump’s British visit continues. Huge protests are expected today in London, where U.S. President Donald Trump will meet British Prime Minister Theresa May days before she leaves office. Trump will call for Britain to place harsher limits on the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, and May will push for deeper economic ties. The meeting follows a day of royal pageantry for the president.
Hondurans take to the streets. Concessions from President Juan Orlando Hernández have failed to placate protesters in cities across Honduras, where decrees that could privatize the education and health sectors have been met with violent demonstrations. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets, shutting down public schools and hospitals.
Keep an Eye On
EU migration policy. Lawyers have filed a request to the International Criminal Court to consider the case of European migration policy in the Mediterranean Sea. The document alleges that it amounts to crimes against humanity and that EU officials are responsible for migrant deaths and detentions as well as crimes committed by the Libyan coast guard, which receives European funding. On Monday, Spain asked the European Union to increase aid to Morocco to curb illegal migration.
Chinese students at U.S. universities. Amid ongoing tensions with the United States, China has warned its students and academics of the risks of studying at U.S. institutions, citing recent problems with visa limitations and refusals. Chinese citizens generate around $14 billion in fees and tuition annually by studying in the United States.
Italy’s prime minister. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has threatened to resign if the country’s coalition partners—a group of right-wing and anti-establishment populists—don’t stop bickering. Disagreements between the League and the Five Star movement have intensified since the European Parliament elections, as Italy’s government turns its attention to its 2020 budget.
The Pentagon’s gender balance. While women have climbed the ranks in the national security world in recent years, they have not kept pace at the Pentagon. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is pushing to change that, Lara Seligman reports. Critics are skeptical: Since Shanahan took over in January, several of the Pentagon’s high-ranking women have left their posts.
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Odds and Ends
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has a plan to replace the country’s 1,000-shilling (approximately $10) banknote to fight corruption and counterfeiting. But the new currency is being challenged in court: Its design includes an image of the country’s first president (Kenyatta’s father), and Kenya’s constitution bars printing portraits on money.
New Delhi’s chief minister proposed free public transit for women throughout India’s capital, where gender-based crime is rampant and has become a major political issue. Opponents say the move is a political ploy ahead of local elections. “Sorry sir, we want safe and secure travel, not freebies,” one woman tweeted.
That’s it for today.