On Wednesday, in the wake of the murder of nine Americans in Mexico on Monday, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley issued a blunt tweet challenging the Mexican government, writing, “With Mexico, enough is enough. US government should impose sanctions on Mexican officials, including freezing assets, who won’t confront cartels. Cartels are flooding MO w/ meth, trafficking children, & openly slaughtering American citizens. And Mexico looks the other way.”
With Mexico, enough is enough. US government should impose sanctions on Mexican officials, including freezing assets, who won’t confront cartels. Cartels are flooding MO w/ meth, trafficking children, & openly slaughtering American citizens. And Mexico looks the other way
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 6, 2019
On Thursday, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena Coqui, responded with a letter apparently linking the U.S. to the increased violence of the drug cartels in Mexico, bringing up Americans’ demand for black-market drugs. Barcena wrote:
In the wake of the tragic loss of lives during the heinous assault that took place against the binational Mormon community of Lebaron in Mexico, my government categorically rejects your recent mischaracterization on Mexico not actively combating transnational organized crime and suggesting to impose sanctions on Mexican officials.
One of the top priorities of President Lopez Obrador is to promote security with a new approach, not seek a violent confrontation with organized crime groups, a strategy that failed in previous administrations leading to unprecedented escalation of violence.
After writing that Mexico “reiterates its willingness to work with the United States,” Barcena added a handwritten note at the bottom of the typed letter, stating, “I hope to be able to discuss these matters with you personally, including how to reduce drug demand in the U.S.”
Hawley noted, “In response to my call for sanctions, yesterday the Mexican Ambassador responded w/ letter taking zero responsibility, offering no change in Mexico’s failed policies, & suggesting real problem is Americans’ “drug demand.” As if Americans are responsible for the cartels’ crimes.”
In response to my call for sanctions, yesterday the Mexican Ambassador responded w/ letter taking zero responsibility, offering no change in Mexico’s failed policies, & suggesting real problem is Americans’ “drug demand.” As if Americans are responsible for the cartels’ crimes pic.twitter.com/zo0jl7u2kG
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 7, 2019
As Tristan Justice reported at The Federalist, “Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah, one of six Mormons in the House of Representatives, joined Hawley in challenging Congress to consider sanctions on the Mexican government.
McAdams told the Federalist, “The unspeakable violence against U.S. women and children this week in the border region of Mexico shocks the conscience and demands action. These criminals place no value on human life and cannot be tolerated by the U.S. or Mexican governments. I call on Congress to join me in considering a range of ideas, including imposing sanctions on Mexican officials who won’t confront the cartels, and declaring Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.”
Justice also spoke to Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, (R-UT), who asserted:
Following these horrific attacks, I believe the U.S. must partner with the Mexican government, not sanction them. Sanctioning Mexico will cripple our neighbor and reduce the incentive for mutual cooperation in delivering justice to the cartels who carried out this heinous attack.
On Tuesday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stated, “Mexico is a vital American interest. And, our desire to make sure the Mexican government defeats the cartels, should be enormous. And I hope this will be a wake-up call — that we had better find a way to have a partnership with the Mexican government and help them with whatever intelligence training equipment they need to decisively defeat the cartels who are now, frankly, a state within a state.”
According to the Council of Foreign Relations:
By 2016, drug-related homicides had increased by 22 percent, with more than twenty thousand killed, and in 2017 a mass grave containing the remains of more than 250 victims of crime-related violence was uncovered in Veracruz State. Since 2006, crime-related violence has resulted in an estimated 150,000 deaths. … In 2018, the number of drug-related homicides in Mexico rose to 33,341, a 15 percent increase from the previous year—and a record high.