Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a new statement on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump saying that the White House intends to designate the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations. Lopez Obrador said that he rejects intervention by the United States in Mexico.
Lopez Obrador, a 66-year-old far-left populist, made the remarks in response to Trump’s comments yesterday during an interview with Bill O’Reilly.
“Cooperation, yes, interventionism, no,” Lopez Obrador said when asked by reporters about Trump’s remarks.
In his interview with Trump, O’Reilly said, “One of the things that you’ve said to me … is that if another country murdered 100,000 Americans with guns, we would go to war with that country. Yet, the Mexican drug cartels kill more than 100,000 Americans every year by the importation of dangerous narcotics.”
“Are you going to designate those cartels in Mexico as terror groups and start hitting them with drones and things like that?” O’Reilly asked.
“I don’t want to say what I am going to do, but they will be designated,” Trump answered. “I’ve already offered Mexico … to let us go in and clean it out and he so far has rejected the offer but at some point something has to be done. Look, we are losing 100,000 people a year to what is happening and what is coming through on Mexico.”
“So you are going to designate the Mexican cartels as terror groups?” O’Reilly continued to prod.
“Yeah, I will be,” Trump replied. “I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process.”
Trump’s remarks come after nine Americans were murdered in Mexico at the beginning of the month in an ambush on a highway.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” Trump tweeted on November 5th in response to the tragedy. “We merely await a call from your great new president!”
After Trump made the announcement yesterday, Mexico’s secretary of foreign relations said in a statement: “By virtue of the good relations that exist between the two countries, the Government of Mexico will seek to have a high-level meeting as soon as possible to present Mexico’s position and know the views of the United States authorities.”
On Monday, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said, “I don’t think the United States will pursue this path because we’re working together, and I don’t think they would want to open up the possibility of Mexico invoking the same legal principles.”
Designating an entity as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), which is done by the State Department, provides the United States with additional tools to combat whatever entity that it gives the designation to, including:
- It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to a designated FTO.
- Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to, and in certain circumstances removable from, the United States.
- The Secretary of the Treasury may require U.S. financial institutions possessing or controlling any assets of a designated FTO to block all transactions involving those assets.
- Supports U.S. efforts to curb terrorism financing and to encourage other nations to do the same;
- Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations internationally;
- Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations;
- Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organizations; and
- Signals to other governments U.S. concern about named organizations.