Mexico holds presidential debate addressing issues of border security and trade

Global Business

In this photo released by the National Electoral Institute (INE), presidential candidates, from left, independent Jaime Rodriguez, known as “El Bronco,” Ricardo Anaya of the Forward for Mexico Coalition, Jose Antonio Meade, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, with the MORENA party, attend the second of three debates in Tijuana, Mexico, Sunday, May 20, 2018. Mexico will hold general elections on July 1. (INE via AP)

Mexico is now deep into its presidential election campaign with the vote set for July 1. The country’s four candidates gathered in Tijuana Sunday to debate issues of border security, international trade and immigration.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

With its barrier separating Mexico from the United States, the border city of Tijuana was the location of Sunday night’s debate.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks against Mexico and his insistence on building a border wall loomed over the debate.

Mexico’s four presidential candidates faced off on issues of border security and commercial trade – focusing on the North American Free Trade Agreement and on questions of how Mexico should treat undocumented immigrants from Central America. The first point of debate -border security.

“The Price is high. And what does the United States do to prevent firearms from coming here, guns that kill people 200,000 guns enter Mexico from the United States each year, and they are doing absolutely nothing about it,” National Action Party candidate Ricardo Anaya said.

On the issue of international trade – Mexico’s four presidential candidates agreed that maintaining trade with the United States is crucial. But they each also said their country should expand commerce with other world economic powers, including those in Asia.

All candidates, left, right, center and an independent agreed that Mexico must do more to protect the rights of immigrants crossing through their national territory.

“We have sufficient economic possibilities here to allow us to work to give them and their families opportunities – while at the same time respecting their cultures and business skills that generate wealth.” said Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez, an independent candidate.

“Migrants have many success stories and there are many ways we can work with them that dignify their lives. They leave and are sent back. We must not fail them a second time.” added Institutional Revolutionary Party Candidate Jose Antoneo Meade.

The format allowed six voters to asked the candidates questions directly, but observers say participation from citizens was not achieved as hoped.

Mexico’s four presidential candidates are already making preparations for the third and final debate scheduled for June 12 in Merida, Yucatan. It will focus on the economy and development and will take place just two weeks before voters cast their ballots to and choose the next president of the world’s largest Spanish-speaking nation.