President Donald Trump said in an interview published this week that he intends to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations despite resistance from Mexican officials. President Trump says he plans to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move that is stoking fears in Mexico that American authorities would use the label to justify a military response across the border against the cartels.
“I will be designating the cartels,” Trump said in an interview with former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly, who raised the issue of the U.S. sending drones into Mexico. Trump did not comment on the idea, but he said the terrorist designation is underway.
“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,” Trump said.
Former diplomat and Mexico expert Jana Nelson told NPR that as Trump’s comments have spread, worries have deepened in Mexico that the designation could lead to military action.
“It has generated some concern in Mexico that the U.S. will actually send the military into Mexico, and if not boots on the ground itself, then perhaps drones to combat drug cartels,” said Nelson, a Wilson Center political analyst who is based in Mexico City.
Roberta Jacobson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the Trump administration before retiring last May, said the concern should be taken seriously.
“There’s a real concern that something like this is a prelude to stronger action, which is military action, which Trump has mentioned at least twice to Mexican presidents,” Jacobson told NPR.
Mexican officials not keen on ‘terrorist’ designation
Mexican officials are resisting the Trump administration moving ahead with the designation, saying the U.S. should not intervene in the country’s violent drug war.
When asked about Trump’s comments, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said : “Cooperation, yes. Intervention, no.”
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard elaborated on the country’s position on Twitter . “Mexico will never admit any action that would be a violation of its national sovereignty,” Ebrard said. “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 State Department maintains the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.
When a group is added to the list , a member of the group cannot enter the U.S. Bank and financial institutions that do business with the group can face penalties. And Americans who provide “material support or resources” to the listed group can face criminal prosecution. Mexico-U.S. relations already strained over trade talks Nelson said as Mexico waits for another trade deal with the U.S. to be hammered out, the country is in a vulnerable position.”Their hands are tied. They can’t antagonize Trump very much, and the power is now in Trump’s hands,” she said. “So the bilateral relationship, which has been suffering for the past three years, will probably continue as such.”Nonetheless, Trump said in […]