Biden’s climate change envoy, John Kerry, will visit the southern border next week

Ciudad Juárez International Bridge in Chihuahua.Luis Torres (EFE)

From the northern border to the southern border, the Mexican government made two announcements Friday regarding its relations with Washington. In addition to reopening land crossings with the US for non-essential travel and vaccinating people, which will take place on November 8 after more than a year and a half of closure, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reported on the visit that the US administration’s envoy for climate change, John Kerry, will draw the border with Guatemala on Monday.

The president will travel with Kerry, who was Secretary of State with Barack Obama, to the municipality of Palancan, on the Tabasco state border with Guatemala. “He came to see the Simbrando Vida,” the president said of one of his main projects, which is to support farmers to grow fruit trees or timber on their land.

The immigration crisis, with record numbers of arrivals in the United States, has marked the agenda of bilateral relations in this first year of the Biden administration. Mexico maintains a strong National Guard deployment on its northern and southern borders, but the Mexican president has insisted on the need to move forward and address the root causes of immigration. In that sense, he tried to persuade the White House to fund the expansion of Simbrando Vida into Central America, a program that was heavily criticized by environmental organizations for believing it encouraged deforestation.

Days later, the northern border, which has been closed for 19 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will reopen. Returning to normal life has become a priority for Mexican diplomacy. However, not everyone who has been vaccinated will be able to enjoy the reopening of the land. The US does not recognize the CanSino and Sputnik V vaccines, which Mexican authorities have applied to several million people. “We have to see the kinds of certificates [de vacunación] Mexico has many questions, different kinds of people’s universes,” the foreign minister announced on Tuesday, when he announced the upcoming opening of the border.

Until now, only overland travel by residents or border workers, considered “essential”, was allowed. On the other hand, tourists had to travel by plane. On Tuesday, US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mallorcas, highlighted in a statement the economic importance of cross-border travel: “It benefits our economy at the border. We are pleased to take these steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

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