MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador warned on Friday that he would not allow cross-border armed US operations against drug cartels in the country.
“We are not going to allow armed people to act in our territory. Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory. We will not allow that,” Lopez Obrador said.
US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he planned to designate the Mexican cartels as terrorist organisations, after earlier saying he would help Mexico tackle the drug gangs.
Trump called for a “war” on the drug cartels in early November when nine women and children from an American Mormon community in northern Mexico were killed in a hail of gunfire.
In Mexico, scourged by spiralling drug gang violence, the comments have been taken as amounting to a threat of armed cross-border operations.
Lopez Obrador said he considered any such operations unlikely, saying there was “great cooperation” between the neighbours.
“In the unlikely case that a decision is taken that we consider affects our sovereignty, then we will act within the framework of international law, but I see it as unlikely,” the president said.
Mexico deployed its army to fight drug trafficking in 2006, but experts blame the so-called “drug war” for the violence between fragmented cartels and the military, which has led to more than 250,000 murders. Trump made his controversial comments in a radio interview with conservative media personality Bill O’Reilly that was posted online.
“Are you going to designate those cartels in Mexico as terror groups and start hitting them with drones?” O’Reilly asked.
“I will be designating the cartels... absolutely. I have been working on that for the last 90 days,” said Trump.
Mexican authorities reacted swiftly, with the foreign ministry saying that it has contacted US officials “to understand the content and the reach” of what the US president had said.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2019