Thanks but no thanks, is the message the Mexican government is sending to the Trump administration after Washington vowed to designate the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and offered to send the military across the border to help defeat them.
In a radio interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Trump was asked if he was going to designate the cartels as terror groups and hit them with drones. “I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated,” Trump said.
“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,” the president added.
It should surprise no one that the Mexican government and people had their national pride insulted by Trump’s offer to send troops across the border. Besides that, there are many who are nervous at the prospect of armed gringos from the U.S. military once again being present in Mexican territory. And many of the people too believed that Trump’s offer was more of a veiled threat.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made it very clear that he would not allow the U.S. to conduct cross-border armed operations in Mexican territory. “Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory. We will not allow that,” he said.
However, Lopez Obrador then extended an olive branch, toning down the rhetoric. He added that any such operations are unlikely, stating there was already “great cooperation” between the neighbors. He said that President Trump had always treated him “respectfully.”
“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,” he said.
Mexico’s foreign minister Marcello Ebrard took it a step farther warning that it was a “violation of national sovereignty.” He is set to meet with U.S. officials in the near future. “We will act firmly. I have transmitted our position to the U.S., as well as our resolve to face international organized crime. Mutual respect is the basis for cooperation.”
The United States already has a sizable presence inside Mexico as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has offices in the country and works closely with Mexican authorities as well as members of the FBI and ATF, who work on a variety of areas: They try to stem the flow of American-made weapons south of the border; and they also conduct money-laundering investigations with the Mexican authorities. And the U.S. routinely has planes flying in Mexican airspace to monitor the flow of illegal narcotics.
There are a few embedded Americans within the Mexican military, but those tend to be more from U.S. law enforcement agencies. The Mexicans are also sure to remember that once, one of their premier elite units, the Airmobile Special Forces Group (GAFE), got training at Ft. Bragg, NC from the 7th Special Forces Group.
Trained by U.S. Green Berets in counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations, Members of GAFE later defected to the Gulf drug cartel and finally split and created Los Zetas, one of the most brutal drug cartels.
But the military is not happy with the current president as they see his policy of appeasing the drug cartels as driving a wedge in the country. Two weeks ago, in the city of Culiacan, the army arrested the son of convicted drug lord “El Chapo” Guzman. Then the cartel sent masses of armed men into the city and began to indiscriminately kill civilians as well as soldiers.
But Lopez Obrador capitulated and ordered the troops to stand down and the drug lord released. One general, Carlos Gaytan, who has served in several high positions was critical of the administration’s policy.
“Today’s Mexico worries us,” he said to a gathering of other generals and defense ministry officials. “As Mexicans, we feel disrespected and as soldiers we’re offended,” he is quoted as saying in the media.
But the Mexican government and the military do not see increased U.S. involvement with military forces as a solution. Many Mexicans feel, and rightfully so, that the huge appetite for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade and the cartels. That and the abundance of American-made weapons that arms them.
Featured photo: Wikipedia