Yuma County and the Mexican state of Sonora benefit from cross-border traffic. That was the message from the mayors of Yuma and Somerton to Mexico's President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador last week during his visit to San Luis Rio Colorado.
Lopez-Obrador's visit to the Mexican border city on Friday was an opportunity for mayors north of the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight the importance of regional cross-border activity.
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls and Somerton Mayor Jose Yepez presented him with an economic report on Yuma County and its cities. Mexican shoppers are responsible for 60 percent of sales revenue in San Luis, Ariz., city leaders there say. And cars with Sonoran license plates can be found at shopping areas in Yuma and Somerton as well. Likewise, many Yuma County residents head into Mexico for lower prices on goods and medical services.
Mayor Yepez said he and Mayor Nicholls, along with San Luis Mayor Gerardo Sanchez, are committed to working with local leaders in San Luis Rio Colorado, including new Mayor Santos Gonzalez Yescas.
"We want to make sure we're promoting ourselves as a region," Yepez said. "We have people across the border that are related to each other so we are very aware of the needs of the surrounding area."
Nicholls said he welcomed Lopez-Obrador to a city where no other Mexican President or President-Elect has visited since Vicente Fox in 2000, according to city leaders.
"It's great to have the president-elect here because it brings attention to an area that hasn't received much national or international attention in a while," Nicholls said. "That will move things forward."
For his part, Lopez-Obrador agreed to help residents in border cities like San Luis R.C. He said is hopeful for a more respectful relationship with the Trump administration.
"I want to let you know that my hope is that President Donald Trump will treat us in a more respectful manner. And I have to see that that happens," he said. "I have spoken with him by phone and we spoke about free trade and immigration. We are drafting some agreements that respect our independence and our sovereignty."
The man called AMLO for his initials was met by a supportive crowd at the rally. He promised to return to San Luis R.C. every six months during his presidency, which begins Dec. 1.
Local resident Adriana Torres was wearing a purple shirt with a caricature of AMLO.
"President (elect) Lopez-Obrador made some great proposals today like increasing the minimum wage," Torres said. "I think he is doing it for the people, not his own pockets."