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AMLO Blames U.S. Political Interests For Tomato Crisis

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador greets people during the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) Anniversary Ceremony.
Courtesy: Office of the Mexican President
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador greets people during the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) Anniversary Ceremony.

MEXICO CITY - Trade tensions between Mexico and the U.S. are currently centered in one of the quintessential ingredients of BLT sandwiches, salsas and Italian-American food: tomatoes. While the U.S. imposes a tariff on this Mexican produce, the president of Mexico speaks up, accusing electoral interests in the U.S.

On Tuesday, a free trade deal allowing fresh Mexican tomatoes entering to the U.S was put on hold by the American government.

Negotiations between both countries continue, but an 18 percent tariff on tomato imports was established. This worries Mexican producers, exporters and president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) himself.

“Considering the circumstances, the tariffs are totally unfair. Everything is linked to politics,” AMLO said. “There are elections in the United States. There are tomato growers in a specific region of the United States and legislators from those regions who have their interests, and that’s why they push.

López Obrador indirectly refers to the Florida lobbyists and politicians who pressured Washington.

However, the president said it’s important to continue having "a very good relationship between both countries.”

The president, who typically opposes liberal policies, stated that closing borders to Mexican growers is a contradiction to bilateral collaboration, while it encourages migration.

“These measures encourage migration. It is the opposite of an intelligent policy to temper the migration phenomenon,” AMLO said.

According to Mexico’s secretary of economy, tomatoes are the third main agricultural export product of Mexico after beer and avocado, and one out of two tomatoes in the U.S. are of Mexican origin. In 2018, the value of its exports to the United States were close to $2 billion.

Rodrigo Cervantes was KJZZ’s bureau chief in Mexico City from 2016 to 2021.