Mexico's President Won't go After Cartels, Cites 'Mexico First' Agenda

Mexico's President Won't go After Cartels, Cites 'Mexico First' Agenda

Daniel Molina
Daniel Molina
March 25, 2024

Tension between the United States and Mexico continues to increase, and the southern border has only exacerbated concerns. Lawmakers have long questioned why Mexico’s government has not accurately responded to threat of Mexican cartels, but now Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is responding to the calls. Over the weekend, AMLO argued that Mexico will not fight the cartels on US orders, highlighting his “Mexico First” policy.

It's no secret that issues at the southern border have propelled the concern to its place as one of the most important topics on voters’ minds in this upcoming election. Moreover, lawmakers have warned of the rise in fentanyl use and the threat from drug cartels. As a response, lawmakers like Florida Rep. Mike Waltz (R) and Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R) have optioned using the military to push back against the cartels, and it’s a measure that President Donald Trump (R) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) have both endorsed.

In response to the issue, AMLO has reaffirmed that not pursuing the cartels is part of his “Mexico First” policy.

In a daily news briefing held over the weekend, AMLO commented that “we are not going to act as policemen for any foreign government. Mexico First. Our home comes first.”

AMLO went on to explain that drugs are a problem that the U.S. needs to address and that it’s not an issue with Mexico.

“Of course we are going to cooperate in fighting drugs, above all because it has become a very sensitive, very sad humanitarian issue, because a lot of young people are dying in the United States because of fentanyl.”

During an interview with 60 Minutes, AMLO questioned "you know why we don't have the drug consumption that you have in the United States? Because we have customs, traditions, and we don't have the problem of the disintegration of the family."

He has taken on a “hugs, not bullets” approach to the cartels, going so far as to call on leaders of the Catholic church to attempt to negotiate peace deals between warring gangs. In 2022, when detailing why he hadn’t ordered the Mexican army to attack cartel members, AMLO argued that “we also take care of the lives of the gang members, they are human beings.”

AMLO gained controversy while holding a press conference last month when he read the cell phone number of a New York Times reporter who was pursuing a story related to him and the drug cartels. During an interview with 60 Minutes, AMLO said the story claimed "the president of Mexico has connections with drug traffickers... without having any proof."

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Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina is an award-winning senior reporter based in Miami. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Florida International University. His hobbies include reading, writing, and watching films.

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