Father Alejandro Solalinde, born in Texcoco (State of Mexico) 74 years ago, has no definite charge, but speaks, calls or writes to secretaries and officials of any order. Everyone knows that he is a man close to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador whom he considers "a pastor leading his people." From an office in a convent in the San Rafael neighborhood of Mexico City, he exercises power in the shadow that until now offers frustrating results in the matter to which he has dedicated his life: Central American migration.
Since a year ago that he came to power, the López Obrador Government has been arrested (“rescued” according to official terminology) 280,000 migrants, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and another 84,000 were deported to reduce the numbers of Central Americans trying to reach the United States. From all this Solalinde exculpates López Obrador and points to the Minister of Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, and the head of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, of “not knowing anything about migration” and being carried away by their social status or their aspirations to replace the current president in the presidential elections of 2024.
P. Isn't it frustrating that the most visible achievement of the Government to address the problem of migration is to deploy 6,000 soldiers at the border?
R. We had to take care of the southern border because there were drugs, weapons, people traffickers … In Mexico there is a problem that was inherited from security and to this is added the danger that enters through the south. Here we have our own posters, but my experience is that the bloodthirsty were the mareros who became operators of the Zetas. Emigration is noble, but there are also very maligned young people, designed, since they are small, to kill. We had to put order because the border gets out of hand.
P. Lopez Obrador described as "successful" and "well applied" the plan to stop the Central American migration that the United States is trying to reach.
R. López Obrador has not done what he wants but what he can. It is the weak point of the Government. Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to be respectful of human rights and proposes to address the problems in the countries of origin, but this cannot be achieved with corrupt (in reference to the Central American presidents) and insensitive (Donald Trump, president of the United States) ). Last year, on the issue of migration, it was a disaster because no public policy has been made or a guiding axis for migration issues has been designed. There is not even a secretariat of its own and so far it has been solved by scoring (a boleo), Alejandro Encinas (undersecretary of Human Rights) who cannot with everything. Neither he nor anyone.
P. The National Migration Institute (INM) is in the hands of the military. It seems more than a "weak point."
R. It is a transition. This year should be designed a public policy in which civil society is involved: NGOs, churches, migrantologists. A deep cleaning must be done to design what the INM will be. Today, at least, it is no longer a criminal institute, but a security institute that has become inoperative for migrants and refugees because of its bureaucratization. He is paralyzed for the issuance of documents because they are afraid of granting residence papers and that within a few days migrants appear on the northern border to cross into the United States.
P. If it is not López Obrador's responsibility, then whose fault is it?
R. I met with the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, two days after she spoke with Trump in Washington and she, because of her economic and social status, which belongs to high society, is designed to understand the north and ignore the south. She even said Trump was right to demand a brake on migration. And there I realized that I didn't know anything about migration. Then came Trump's threat to impose tariffs and that was when Ebrard (the chancellor) intervened and decided everything. It smells like Trump's blackmail to seek reelection, but also that Ebrard is positioning himself with this issue for the presidential elections of 2024.
P. Do you admit that Trump directs Mexico's immigration policy?
R. López Obrador has the pressure of Donald Trump, who is an unbalanced person. But I know that there is also a black hand of people and organizations that are now organizing a new caravan from Honduras on which we do not know its size. I do not rule out that it is Trump people looking for blows of effect to support their theory that migrants are criminals and that it is necessary to build a wall to curb Mexicans. Now Guatemala and El Salvador are safe third country and I don't see it so easy that they let this caravan move forward, but if they got here it will be the great litmus test.
P. Some responsibility will have the Government that went from giving papers immediately to turning the border into a wall.
R. The Government was naive and was allowed to eat the errand by people traffickers. I saw photographs with the white weapons and drugs that migrants brought. And that nobody saw without registration. There were accusations against Irineo Mújica (coordinator of Peoples Without Borders that helped organize several caravans) that he charged $ 8,000 to take a family of Salvadorans north. But, in addition, I realized that there were migrants moving with chairs for children in which there were no children but marijuana.
P. A judge said it was not true and released him.
R. They did not put him in jail because of social pressure and because there are very corrupt judges.
P. Isn't it that there was no evidence?
R. Yes there were, but the judges did not listen to these families. They told how they gave $ 8,000 to one of them (a member of Peoples Without Borders) in Tapachula.
P. You accuse social organizations of having changed their approach to migration, but you used to defend migrants and now work for López Obrador.
R. Do not be confused, I work for Mexico not for López Obrador. I do it by supporting an honest president who is very different than demanding money from migrants.
P. How have you seen the relationship between the Catholic Church and López Obrador?
R. Not a single cardinal has shown his support. If the Catholic hierarchy does not come down and gets closer to the concerns of the people and it will remain more and more alone.
P. How do you rate this first year of Government?
R. López Obrador is already the best president that Mexico has had. While politicians like Genaro García Luna are suffering, he is calm because he is not afraid. He is a happy man with people. There is no way to pigeonhole it, Andrés Manuel is making a great transformation and strengthening popular power. Mexico was an abandoned town, it was like a church without a pastor, but he takes responsibility and guides his people.
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