Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday rejected “interventionism”after US President Donald Trump said he was working to designate the Latin American country’s drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
Lopez Obrador said Mexico would take up the issue after the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and that he had asked his foreign minister to lead talks.
“Cooperation, yes, intervention, no” Lopez Obrador said in a morning news conference when asked about Trump’s comments.
Cartels “will be” designated, Trump said in an interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, broadcast on Tuesday, adding he had been working for 90 days on the process.
A growing chorus of conservative voices in the United States has called for Mexican cartels to be classified as terrorist groups after the killing of nine Americans with dual Mexican nationality in Mexico earlier this month.
At the weekend, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said such a designation could, under US law, enable the United States to act directly against the threat if it so chose.
In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, Ebrard said he was already in contact with US counterparts and that his efforts would be focused on defending Mexico’s sovereignty.”
The US State Department includes dozens of organizations on its list of terrorist groups. Most of them are Islamist, separatist or Marxist insurgents. In Latin America, Colombia’s left-wing guerrilla and right-wing paramilitaries, both involved in drug trafficking, have in the past appeared on the list.
Once a particular group is designated as a terrorist organization, it is illegal under US law for people in the United States to knowingly offer support and its members cannot enter the country and may be deported.
Experts foresee more pressure from Trump over Mexican drug gangs in the lead-up to the 2020 US presidential election,echoing his earlier use of tariff threats to persuade Mexico to clamp down on illegal immigration.
Trump said Lopez Obrador, who he considered “a good man,”had declined his previous offers to “let us go in and clean it out.”
“But as some point something has to be done,” he said