L ó perador Obrador replies to Trump about declaring the cartels as terrorists: “Interventionism no”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Andrés Manuel López Obrador – Javier Lira / NOTIMEX / dpa

Under the designation, the US could carry out military operations on Mexican soil under the argument of “legitimate defense.”


The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has sent a clear message to his American counterpart, Donald Trump, after he announced the day before the United States will declare terrorist organizations to the Mexican drug cartels, rejecting an eventual “interventionism” .

L ó perador Obrador replies to Trump about declaring the cartels as terrorists: “Interventionism no”
L ó perador Obrador replies to Trump about declaring the cartels as terrorists: “Interventionism no”

During his traditional daily press conference, the president has been asked about the matter and, after assuring that he does not want to “polemicize”, he has simply stated emphatically: “Just say cooperation yes, interventionism no, and there we leave it”.

López Obrador has clarified that his Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, “has instructions to address this issue.” The chancellor already pronounced late on Tuesday on the matter after hearing Trump's decision.

“Mexico will never admit any action that means violation of its national sovereignty,” Ebrard said in his message on Twitter. “We will act firmly,” he said, clarifying that he had already transmitted the position of the Mexican Government to the United States and its “resolution to deal with transnational organized crime.” “Mutual respect is the basis of cooperation,” he said.

Trump unveiled Tuesday in an interview on Fox News that his Administration will designate the drug cartels operating in Mexico as terrorist organizations, something he said he has been working on “the last 90 days.”

The US president said he had even raised López Obrador to intervene in Mexico. “I have asked him to let us in and clean the area” but “he has rejected the offer for the moment,” he said. “At some point it will have to be done,” he added.

The designation of foreign terrorist organizations is the responsibility of the Department of State under the Immigration and Nationality Law. In order to designate a group as such, it must be a foreign entity, have terrorist intentions or capabilities and threaten the security of the United States or its interests.

The process, as Trump acknowledged, “is not easy” and currently the State Department is immersed in it. The president did not want to give details about the type of actions Washington could take against drug cartels once they have been formally declared terrorist organizations.

On paper, the measure implies that the Treasury Department may confiscate or block assets related to such cartels. In addition, no US entity or citizen will be prohibited from providing material support or resources and that none of its members enter the United States.

It also gives the US Government more options to pursue suspects in supporting Mexican cartels, including those who provide them with training, transportation or financial support.

But the element that has generated the most concern in Mexico is the one related to the possibility that the United States, on the basis of the argument that these are terrorist organizations, can carry out a military operation when the time comes, claiming that it is an action in “legitimate defense.”

This was precisely the argument made by the US Government, then under Barack Obama, to justify the operation in Pakistan in which the then leader of Al Qaeda died in May 2011.

If the designation takes place, Mexican cartels such as the Gulf, Jalisco Nueva Generación or Sinaloa, would become comparable to terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or Islamic State, as well as Palestinian groups Hamas or Islamic Jihad, to the Guard Iranian Revolutionary (including this year) or the Colombian guerrillas of the ELN and the FARC.

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