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President of Mexico attacks US lawmakers for suggesting US should protect itself militarily against cartels

By Sarah May on
 March 11, 2023

Mexico's president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, has stepped forward this week to blast American lawmakers who called for military action against Mexican drug cartels following the deaths of two American citizens in a kidnapping in that country, as The Hill reports.

The remarks from López Obrador came during a press conference on Thursday when the president proclaimed his determination to prevent foreign governments from interfering with Mexico's sovereignty.

U.S. lawmakers call for action

The cartel kidnapping of four – and killing of two – Americans in Matamoros, Tamaulipas last week served as something of a flashpoint in ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Mexico regarding the activities of powerful drug cartels and their role in this country's fentanyl epidemic, as National Review noted.

As such, recent days have seen an uptick in demands from American legislators – including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – urging a tough federal response to curb the flow of drugs into the U.S.

Graham said at a Wednesday press conference, as Fox News reported, “We're going to unleash the fury and might of the United States against these cartels. We're going to destroy their business model and their lifestyle because our national security and the security of the United States as a whole depends on us taking decisive action.”

The senator went on to announce his intention to introduce a measure designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and paving the way for the use of American military force to enter Mexico and eradicate the drug manufacturing and trafficking networks, while noting that the idea was “[n]ot to invade Mexico, not to shoot Mexican airplanes down, but to destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans.”

Crenshaw, Waltz agree

Republican Reps. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) and Mike Waltz (FL-06) were already on board with Graham's sentiments, having introduced a bill that would permit the president to use military force to combat Mexican drug cartels earlier this year, as the Washington Examiner reported at the time.

“The cartels are at war with us – poisoning more than 80,000 Americans with fentanyl every year, creating a crisis at our border, and turning Mexico into a failed narco-state,” Crenshaw said in relation to the bill. “It's time we directly target them. My legislation will put us at war with the cartels by authorizing the use of military force against the cartels.”

Crenshaw continued, “We cannot allow heavily armed and deadly cartels to destabilize Mexico and import people and drugs into the United States. We must start treating them like ISIS – because that is who they are.”

Waltz, for his part, explained that the proposed measure would afford the commander in chief “sophisticated military cyber, intelligence, and surveillance resources to disrupt cartel operations that are endangering Americans.”

López Obrador fires back

The Mexican president was having none of it, however, stating on Thursday, according to The Hill, “We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene, much less a foreign government's armed forces.”

“We are not a protectorate of the United States, nor a colony of the United States. Mexico is a free, independent, sovereign state,” López Obrador continued.

The Mexican president went even further, threatening to initiate an election interference effort against Republican lawmakers in the U.S., suggesting he would urge Hispanics and Mexicans in America not to vote for GOP candidates in future elections, as Fox News noted separately.

“Starting today we are going to start an information campaign for Mexicans who live and work in the United States and for all Hispanics to inform them of what we are doing in Mexico and how this initiative by the Republicans, in addition to being irresponsible, is an offense against the people of Mexico, a lack of respect for our independence, our sovereignty,” López Obrador said.

“Clearly defending the cartels”

Crenshaw on Friday responded to López Obrador's fiery statements, taking particular issue with the Mexican president's suggestion that fentanyl is not produced, dealt, or consumed in his country, calling it a “flat-out lie,” as National Review further noted.

The Texas congressman said of the Mexican leader, “He's clearly not against the cartels. He's clearly defending the cartels at the detriment of his own people.”

“You know, the cartels have killed a lot of Americans, whether through lacing drugs with fentanyl or just murdering them when they go down to get a medical appointment, but they've killed a lot more Mexicans,” Crenshaw added.

When asked about López Obrador's pledge to intervene in American elections by imploring Mexicans and others not to vote for “inhuman and interventionist” Republicans, Crenshaw sarcastically declared himself to be “super worried about it.”