The Mexican government denied Friday that the border with the United States will be closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, so the exchange between both countries will be maintained and only non-essential travel will be restricted.
“It is not being closed,” said Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, during the morning conference from the National Palace.
The foreign minister explained that after two days of negotiations between Washington and Mexico – especially with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – a catalogue of essential activities was agreed upon to maintain the economic flow on the border, where 1 million people transit daily and goods and services worth 1.7 billion dollars are exchanged.
This agreement comes despite President Donald Trump’s February 29th suggestion to close the border with Mexico, a restriction that was finalized this week with Canada.
The Mexican foreign minister also ruled out an air restriction agreement with Washington because of the coronavirus, which has left 164 infections and one death in Mexico, according to the latest report from the federal government.
“All activities, in the first place, of commerce, transportation of merchandise, logistic movements that have to do with commercial activity are not affected,” said Ebrard, adding that this includes authorized workers and medical and emergency services.
Among the restrictions agreements, the secretary explained, are urging the population to refrain from non-essential travel and coordinating health care, since he recalled that there are more cases of COVID-19 in cities like El Paso (Texas) than in Ciudad Juarez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
“Practically what we are asking is that people who do not have a work, commercial or essential purpose, for medical or other reasons, should postpone their visits to the United States,” Ebrard said.
The official also urged to “accelerate the pace” for the entry into force in June of the new U.S.-Mexico and Canada Trade Agreement (T-MEC), which has already been ratified by the three countries’ congresses, to revive the economy once the emergency passes.
BOASTS OF PREPAREDNESS
At the press conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, presumed that his government developed its strategy for the mitigation of the coronavirus three months ago, “before other governments in the world”, when he reported on Thursday’s meeting of the General Health Council.
This is a collegiate body that reports to the president and has the character of a health authority.
“We are prepared, we have resources, all the money that is needed and most importantly, there is organization,” he said.
López Obrador said that his administration is preparing Plan DN-III, an emergency program that in Mexico includes the participation of the Armed Forces, and a Marine Plan.
Despite recommendations for social distancing, the president announced that he will go this weekend to Tlaxiaco and Guelatao, in Oaxaca, where he will celebrate the birth of historic President Benito Juarez.