Spain’s decision to grant residence permits to former Mexican presidents Felipe Calderon, Enrique Pena Nieto and nationality to Carlos Salinas de Gortari was administrative, and not political or “discretionary.” This was stated this Thursday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, during his second official visit to Mexico. “They have applied for residence as thousands of people do every year,” he stated at a press conference with his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard. “The authorities neither prejudge nor fail to prejudge a situation,” added the diplomat, referring to the money laundering investigation Pena Nieto is facing in Mexico. After the diplomatic tensions in recent years, both countries have announced a new relaunch of the bilateral relationship, which leaves behind the disagreement that they staged at the beginning of this year. “It is impossible to pause relations between Spain and Mexico because it is impossible to pause relations between two brothers,” he assured.
Albares has said that the granting of residence permits to the ex-presidents is summed up in that they met the requirements. EL PAIS announced on Wednesday that Calderon had been the last former president of Mexico to request residence in Spain, a permit that he obtained thanks to the support of the foundation of former president Jose Maria Aznar, which has sponsored him with a contract as a teacher. Salinas de Gortari obtained Spanish nationality the previous year by arguing that he was a descendant of Sephardic Jews, and Pena Nieto managed to settle in Madrid in 2020, where he settled after concluding his term in December 2018, with a “golden visa” thanks to his investment in real estate.
“We respect the rules and decisions that Spain makes in its area of competence”, Ebrard stated. In August, the Attorney General’s Office announced three investigations against Pena Nieto for money laundering, illicit enrichment and irregular transfers abroad. The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs has ensured that visas do not interfere in legal proceedings in the country and has made it clear that the Government will prevent them from becoming an escape door for former presidents. “For these characters and others, this does not excuse them or remove them from any process,” said the chancellor. If this is the case, Mexico will request the support of the Spanish authorities to advance the investigations. “It has been a great success,” he has said of the meeting.
It is the first time that a meeting of the Binational Commission has been held since Lopez Obrador became president at the end of 2018. Albares and Ebrard, however, have met twice this year. The foreign minister’s last visit to Mexico was at the beginning of March, with the aim of easing diplomatic relations between the two countries, touched since Lopez Obrador asked to “pause” relations between Mexico and Spain. “We want to have good relations with all the governments of the world, but we don’t want them to rob us,” he said in February, in one of the multiple criticisms that he has launched over the years at various Spanish companies -mainly energy-, such as Iberdrola or Repsol, with which he has harshly confronted on account of the electrical reform promoted by his Government.
The echo of those words has reached the appointment this Thursday, which also included the Spanish Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto. The minister highlighted that Spain is the second State that invests the most in Mexico, only behind the US, and that Mexico has become the sixth investor in the European country. Although he has explicitly avoided entering into controversy, Maroto has recognized the existence of “some already known difficulties”, especially in the energy sector, and has emphasized cooperation between the two governments to “facilitate the conditions” in which they are developed. business in the country. Sources from the Spanish delegation do observe a change in the prevailing climate: “We are experiencing a very different moment from February.”
In the latest attempt at normalization, both governments agreed to “accelerate” mutual ties and reactivate “as soon as possible” the commission held this Thursday, which is in its thirteenth edition. Among the agreements signed on this occasion, the convening of a summit of presidents between the European Union (EU) and the Commission of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) stands out, which has not been held since 2015 and which will coincide with the Spanish presidency in the EU . “Spain is going to make an effort to definitively place Latin America and, of course, Mexico, at the heart of the EU,” Albares declared. Mexico has returned the gesture and the foreign minister has announced that Spain will be the guest of honor at the FIL in Guadalajara in 2024. Diplomats have also advanced that they will seek to cooperate in Central America and deepen their ties in the scientific and cultural fields.
The delegation headed by Albares also traveled the Minister of Education, Pilar Alvarez; the Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats; and the Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta. The intention of both countries is to prioritize the areas where they have points in common and not focus on the disagreements that have hampered the bilateral relationship. “This commission is a bit the temperature of how our relationship is going, and this [su celebracion] It shows that he is in excellent health”, concluded the Spanish minister.
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