LatinNews Daily - 10 March 2023

MEXICO: Tensions with US intensify

On 9 March, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with US Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.


The meeting comes at a delicate moment in US-Mexico relations following the kidnapping of four US citizens in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state on 3 March. Security forces located the four on 7 March, two of whom had been killed. The incident has prompted US Republican lawmakers to vouch for a more hard-line approach to tackling Mexican drug trafficking organisations (DTOs), which López Obrador has deemed interventionist. Meanwhile, the large media and political response to the kidnappings, and the swiftness with which the victims were located, has led some to point out that cases involving Mexicans do not receive such treatment.

  • López Obrador tweeted that the meeting had been “very good”, stating that topics discussed included “fentanyl, arms trafficking and the decision of [US] President Joe Biden to respect our sovereignty”.
  • Prior to the meeting, López Obrador said that his government was committed to helping combat fentanyl. However, he noted that “we do not accept threats”.
  • This refers to recent calls by Republican lawmakers. On 8 March, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated that he and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) would present a bill to propose designating Mexican DTOs as foreign terrorist organisations and allowing the US armed forces to intervene in Mexico.
  • In a press conference yesterday, López Obrador said the initiative was “irresponsible” and “an offense to the Mexican people.” He stated his government would not let the armed forces of a foreign government intervene in Mexico.
  • Yesterday, local media reported that the Cártel del Golfo DTO – widely believed to have been behind the kidnappings – had handed over five men they said were responsible and condemned the incident.
  • The attention that the kidnappings have garnered has been viewed as a double standard, given the number of Mexicans killed or disappeared each day. Tyler Mattiace, Mexico researcher at international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated, “we live in a country where thousands of people go missing every year, and authorities rarely do anything to try to find them or identify those responsible.”

Looking Ahead: Following the meeting with Sherwood-Randall, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted that another meeting would take place in Washington D.C. in April with security delegations from both countries. Ebrard has also condemned the Republicans’ proposal, saying “the consequences would be catastrophic for bilateral anti-narcotics cooperation.”

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