Mexico’s Grant of Asylum to Exiled Bolivian President Undermines Its Immigration Policy



The Mexican government recently granted former Bolivian President, Evo Morales, asylum in its country, despite the socialist leader’s troubled history and Mexican leadership’s assertion that Mexico “is not a country that meets the necessary characteristics” for asylum seekers.

A recent report from the Organization of American States (OAS), an organization of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere, found that Morales rigged his most recent election to secure another term. Due to the election manipulation and a history of radical and authoritarian policies, the Bolivian government and public pressured Morales to resign last week.

Shortly after, the Mexican government offered political asylum to Morales and flew him to Mexico on a Mexican Air Force plane.

It’s not unprecedented for Mexico to offer asylum to disposed leaders. In 1936, the country offered asylum to a leader of the Soviet revolution, Leon Trotsky. Likewise, Mexico allowed deposed Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to seek asylum in 1979. But a more important question remains at hand. If Mexico is openly offering political asylum to prominent individuals like Morales, how can it still claim that “it is not a country that meets the necessary characteristics” for asylum seekers?

In recent years, the United States has repeatedly asked Mexico to sign onto a safe third country agreement, an asylum agreement that requires migrants passing through its country to seek asylum there first before in the United States.

Mexico has not cooperated, even though it is a country suitable for migrants to seek refuge in. Other countries in the region have signed onto a safe third country agreement, including the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Mexico’s asylum offer to an exiled authoritarian leader simply undermines its own excuse for not becoming a party to the agreement. Its actions with Morales reveal that conditions in its country are suitable for individuals persecuted by their government, even those who come from prestigious and affluent backgrounds.

The hypocrisy is even more evident when noting the Mexican president’s pledge to support migrants in Mexico and honor its status as a country of refuge. Its asylum offer to Morales signals to bona fide asylum seekers that its government will prioritize those with political prestige and ignore their troubled pasts and questionable claims.

Most importantly, however, Mexico’s actions prove that its reasoning to not sign onto a safe third country agreement is flimsy at best.

About Author

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Matthew joined FAIR in 2018 as FAIR’s communications specialist. Matthew is a primary media contact for the organization and assists with all of the organization’s communication activities. He brings previous experience in government research, writing, and communications. Before joining FAIR, Matthew worked in the Wisconsin State Senate as well as a Wisconsin political non-profit. Matthew holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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