The Mexican version did not include the phrase but was otherwise an accurate translation using the agreed language.
The joint declaration was outcome of a meeting between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.
The two countries agreed to continue working together to better control migration in the Western Hemisphere by addressing root causes, continuing to build legal pathways for migrants and dismantling human smuggling networks.
“Both countries reaffirmed their existing commitments to orderly, humane, and regular migration,” the original White House statement read.
“This involves strengthening our partnership to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty, inequality, democratic decline and violence, as well as the two countries’ initiative in favor of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.
The Mexican version, identical except for the phrase “democratic decline”, caused an outcry among the country’s opposition, which sounded the alarm over López Obrador’s institutional reforms.
López Obrador has ridiculed institutions such as the country’s independent electoral authority as “neoliberal”, “conservative” and too costly for the country, pushing for reforms and budget cuts to weaken them.
For Mexico’s opposition, López Obrador’s actions are the very definition of “democratic decline.”
Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, main foreign policy advisor to opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, accused the Mexican government ofthe platform formerly known as Twitter, to “remove” the term after the White House released its initial version.
But the White House reissued the English version of the statement a few hours later, this time without “democratic decline.”
An official with knowledge of the talks told The Hill that the terms were added by U.S. officials after the meeting.
“Due to a version control issue, the initial version of the document we posted online included an additional sentence that had not been discussed with the Mexicans. Promoting democratic values in the region is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration and we have worked with Mexico to promote these values, including most recently in Guatemala and Venezuela,” said a spokesperson for the Council of national security in an email to The Hill.
Mexican officials had asked to include the U.S. embargo against Cuba and sanctions against Venezuela in the root causes section, but U.S. officials did not accept this language and it was not included in any of the three versions of the press release.
This story was updated at 4:23 p.m. on December 29.
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