Mexico’s president sends letter congratulating Biden

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro congratulated U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, becoming the last major Latin American leaders to do so.

Both the Mexican and Brazilian leaders were seen as close to Donald Trump. Bolsonaro wrote in his Twitter account: “Greetings to President Joe Biden, with my best wishes and the hope that the United States will remain ’the land of the free and the brave.'”

But more surprising was the tardy and somewhat chilly letter López Obrador said he sent to Biden late Monday. The Mexican president has stressed that maintaining good relations with the United States — Mexico's northern neighbor and by far its top trading partner — is one of his top priorities.

López Obrador said Tuesday he intentionally waited until the Electoral College vote before writing to Biden. The brief letter contained an implicit warning against getting involved in Mexico’s internal affairs.

“He took way too long” to congratulate Biden, said columnist and former diplomat Gabriel Guerra. He described the letter as “rather cool and standoffish.”

“I don't see it as a major, dramatic roadblock in the relationship,” Guerra said, but noted “when you send a letter, send a nice one.”

But the letter also held out a seeming, tentative offer that Mexico might continue to act as a buffer against waves of migrants seeking to reach the United States, a role Mexico took on partly at the urging of Trump.

“I also want to express my recognition of your stance in favor of migrants from Mexico and the rest of the world, which will allow us to continue with plans to promote development and welfare in southeastern Mexico and the countries of Central America,” López Obrador wrote.