Last month, President Donald Trump threatened to declare Mexico’s drug cartels “foreign terrorist organizations.” Under U.S. law, that designation could mean, among other things, that an American in an inner-city gang selling street drugs that originated south of the border could be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws.
Another implication is that the designation might be used to justify U.S. military adventurism against the cartels – something Mexico’s president says his country will not tolerate.
Over the weekend, an hour-long shootout between heavily-armed drug cartel members, and police and federal law enforcement, left more than 20 people dead, and an entire town pockmarked with bullet holes.
Alfredo Corchado is the Mexico border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News. He says a turf war between two rival cartels was the spark for the shootout in Coahuila, an hour’s drive from Eagle Pass, Texas. The town is located on a route one cartel hopes to use in bringing drugs to the state.
“It was a pretty bloody thing, and it happened on a weekend when [Mexican] President [Andrés Manuel] López Obraodor was celebrating his first year in office,”Corchado says.
Despite an increased level of violence in the country, including the murders of a family of Mexican-American mormons, last month, Corchado says López Obraodor is emphatic that there be no outside military involvement in Mexico. One strategy for keeping the U.S. out, Corchado says, has been to avoid provoking Trump.
“The Mexicans have been very careful not to let Trump incite them,” Corchado says. “They’ve been using very diplomatic language. Some people would say they’re appeasing the administration.”
For Mexican citizens, security is a top priority, Corchado says, with 68% of respondents to a recent poll citing security as their number one concern. The same percentage of Mexicans support López Obrador, Corchado says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.