(CNSNews.com) – Taking aim at GOP lawmakers pushing for military action against Mexican drug cartels, President Andres Manuel López Obrador said Thursday that if the drive continues he will call on Mexican and Hispanic voters in the U.S. not to support the Republican Party.
One of the lawmakers involved advised López Obrador to “get a grip” and said he should be campaigning against the cartels murdering his people, rather than against those wanting to help.
“We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene, much less the armed forces of a foreign government to intervene in our territory,” the Mexican president said during a press conference. “We are not a protectorate of the United States, nor a colony of the United States.”
The fentanyl crisis has prompted several Republican-led proposals to have the U.S. government designate the Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), and use military assets against them. Proponents say they aren’t calling for U.S. troops to be deployed on the ground, but for the use of cyber, drones, and other capabilities against gangs responsible for the drugs that are killing tens of thousands of Americans each year.
The deaths of two Americans kidnapped in northeastern Mexico has fueled the calls.
But López Obrador said they amount to an attack on Mexican sovereignty, and laid out his planned response:
“Starting today we are going to launch 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,” he said.
“And if they do not change their attitude and think that they are going to use Mexico for their propaganda, electoral, and political purposes, we are going to call for them not to vote for that party, because it is interventionist, inhumane, hypocritical, and corrupt.”
Among those responding to López Obrador’s remarks was Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers pressing for military action against the cartels.
“The President of Mexico said today he would campaign against me & anyone who wants to target the cartels,” he tweeted.
“1. Bring it. Lol. 2. Get a grip. You should be campaigning against the cartels who are MURDERING your own people, not the Americans who want to help eradicate them.”
Earlier this week, after news broke that two of four Americans kidnapped last Friday had been killed, Crenshaw tweeted, “It’s time we authorize military force against them. Are you listening, [López Obrador]? We would love for you to be a partner. Help us help you.”
The cartel-focused congressional initiatives include a resolution introduced in January by Crenshaw and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), granting Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to target specified cartels facilitating the fentanyl crisis.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – from whose state the kidnapped and murdered Americans came – joined Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) at a press conference this week outlining plans for legislation that would designate the cartels as FTOs, and then “give the military the authority to go after these organizations wherever they exist.”
“Not to invade Mexico. Not to shoot Mexican airplanes down,” Graham said. “But to destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans.”
Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) and Rick Scott (Fla.) on Wednesday reintroduced their Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act, previously proposed last September, that would designate four specified Mexican cartels as FTOs.
The designation would make it a crime to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to the cartels to enter the U.S., ban entry into the U.S. to any foreign citizen linked to the cartels, and authorize the Treasury Department to freeze cartels’ assets and block transactions.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that FTO designations for the cartels “would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t really have at this time.”
The Crenshaw-Waltz and Marshall-Scott measures both name the cartels they want targeted. Both lists include the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels, which have been linked to the production of most of the fentanyl coming across the southwest border.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71,238 Americans died in fentanyl overdoses in 2021.
In his press conference remarks on Thursday, López Obrador denied that fentanyl is produced or consumed in Mexico, characterizing the situation in the U.S. as a result of an inadequate law enforcement response and social problems.
“Why don’t they fight the distribution of fentanyl in the United States, the cartels in the United States that are in charge of distributing fentanyl and more thoroughly?” he asked. “Why don’t you take care of your youth? Why don’t they address their serious problem of social decomposition?”
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