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Harris Meets AMLO, With Immigration in Focus

The meeting follows a blunt message to would-be migrants the previous day: “Do not come.”

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris steps off Air Force Two.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris steps off Air Force Two.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard as she steps off Air Force Two at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, on June 7. JIM WATSON/AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights council meets on the COVID-19 vaccine waiver proposal, and Peru’s election is still too close to call.

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Harris Meets AMLO in Mexico

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights council meets on the COVID-19 vaccine waiver proposal, and Peru’s election is still too close to call.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Harris Meets AMLO in Mexico

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris completes the second leg of her trip south of the U.S. border with a meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City today.

According to a statement from Harris’s office, the two are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to establish a “strategic partnership to cooperate on development programs in the Northern Triangle,” collectively referring to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The memorandum is part of Harris’s mission, given to her by U.S. President Joe Biden, to tackle the “root causes” of immigration from Central America to the United States. The day before, Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in Guatemala City. Speaking at a press conference afterward, her message for would-be migrants was blunt. “Do not come. Do not come,” she said. “I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”

Instead, the Biden administration plans to invest up to $4 billion in the region to address the reasons why migrants would take the treacherous path to the U.S. border to begin with. Northern Triangle countries have some of the highest murder rates in the world, endemic corruption, high poverty rates, and are increasingly vulnerable to climate change—all factors that drive residents north.

Border worries. Harris’s comments come as U.S. immigration arrests and detentions on the U.S.-Mexico border have seen a marked increase. In April, 178,622 people were apprehended at the border, the highest one-month figure in two decades. Republicans have criticized Harris for not visiting the border as part of her trip. Harris addressed the criticism at her Monday press conference, saying she would deal with immigration in a “way that is significant and has real results … as opposed to grand gestures.”

Election setback. Harris will be meeting with López Obrador at a time when he has been politically chastened. His ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Mexico’s lower house following Sunday’s legislative elections, making it harder for the president to pass constitutional reforms. His coalition did keep its overall majority, keeping budget control within its grasp. “What was reaffirmed yesterday is that the policy of transformation is to continue,” López Obrador told a news conference on Monday.

Vaccine diplomacy. Although immigration will top the day’s agenda, cross-border cooperation on the COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to come up. Mexican officials recently announced the donation of 1 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S. stockpile, which Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said would be distributed to the areas of the country most dependent on U.S. tourism.


What We’re Following Today

TRIPS meets again. The World Trade Organization Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights meets today to continue discussions on a joint Indian and South African proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) protections on COVID-19 vaccines, now also backed in part by the United States. A counter-proposal, put together by the European Union, which keeps IP protections intact, will also come under discussion. Humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, which backs the waiver proposal, has dismissed the EU proposal as “a maneuver to push for voluntary actions of pharmaceutical corporations as a solution to replace a concrete legal solution backed by more than 100 countries.”

Peru’s election. Socialist candidate Pedro Castillo has taken the slightest of leads in Peru’s presidential election, with 95 percent of ballots counted. Castillo currently leads his conservative rival, Keiko Fujimori, by 0.6 percent. Looking at a potential third straight presidential election defeat, Fujimori has alleged voter fraud and encouraged her supporters to share evidence of vote stealing on social media. “Theres a clear intention to boycott the will of the people,” Fujimori said at a press conference.

Mladic in court. Judges at an international court in The Hague will hand down a verdict today on former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, who appealed a 2017 conviction on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. Mladic, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” had been sentenced to life in prison, but his lawyers argued he is not responsible for the actions of his subordinates.


Keep an Eye On

Israel’s new government. The vote to swear in the new Israeli government will take place in the coming week, but a specific date has not yet been set, said Yariv Levin, Israel’s parliament speaker and an ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although the vote may come as soon as Wednesday, it is expected to take place next Monday, the final date it can legally be held.

Netanyahu and his allies have been accused of slowing the political process as they attempt to derail the fragile eight-party coalition, which Netanyahu has falsely accused of having “the greatest election fraud in the history of the country.” Still, the coalition has yet to crack, and if it’s approved, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Yamina party, will become prime minister in a rotation agreement with centrist leader Yair Lapid.

Carbon dioxide risks. The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is now at its highest level since records began in 1963, despite reduced human activity over the past year. The findings, from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California—San Diego, show the amount of carbon in the air roughly matches levels seen 4 million years ago, when sea levels were 78 feet higher than today. Wildfires are believed to have offset any decrease in carbon release from human activity.

A new special report from FP Analytics, “Toward Deep Decarbonization,” explores the technologies that can reduce climate change-related risks. (For FP Insider subscribers)


Odds and Ends

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have entered the sporting realm after Ukraine released its new uniforms for the Euro 2020 soccer championships, beginning on June 11. Ukraine’s new kit features an outline of the country, including Russian-annexed Crimea, a design that prompted scorn from Russian lawmakers.

Russian politician Dmitry Svishchev called it a “political provocation” while Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the jerseys created the “illusion of the impossible” by attaching Ukraine’s territory to “Russia’s Crimea.” Zakharova also took issue with two slogans emblazoned on the shirt: “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the heroes,” comparing them to Nazi rallying cries. Depending on how results go at the championships, the two countries could face each other in the competition’s quarterfinal stage.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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