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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
handout | agency
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 is KJZZ’s bureau chief in Mexico City, where he was born and raised. He has served as opinion writer, contributor and commentator for several media outlets and organizations in Mexico and the United States, including CNN, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Univisión. Cervantes previously worked as the business editor and editorial coordinator for El Norte, the leading newspaper in Monterrey and a publication of Grupo Reforma, Mexico’s premier news group. In Mexico City, Cervantes served in Reforma as a reporter, special correspondent, editor and special sections coordinator. Cervantes also held the editor position at MundoHispánico, a division of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia’s oldest and largest Latino newspaper. He also participated as one of the first members of the Diversity Advisory Group for Cox Media. In 2012, Cervantes was appointed as fellow for the Leadership Program of The New York Times/Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as well as for the "Líderes Digitales" program from the International Center for Journalists. In 2010, he was awarded with the Poynter-McCormick Leadership Fellowship. Cervantes graduated with honors in communication sciences and journalism from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico City Campus. Later, he was granted the Fundación Carolina Scholarship from the Spanish government to obtain an MBA degree at San Pablo-CEU School of Business (Madrid). Other awards include: the Power 30 Under 30 Award for Professional and Community Excellence in Atlanta, the Outstanding Alumni Medal from ITESM, and several José Martí Awards for Journalism Excellence from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP). Cervantes enjoys music, books, travel, friendship, good mezcal and the occasional company of his guitar.