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Tipsheet

The Mexican President Threatened Election Interference. Will We Do Anything About It?

AP Photo/Fernando Llano

In case you missed it over the weekend, Mexico's president vowed to meddle against Republicans in upcoming US elections, prompted by GOP calls for more aggressive action against drug cartels.  In a brazen screed, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ("AMLO") ripped into Republicans and issued a threat that if they don't stop saying things he doesn't like, he will lead an "information campaign" to ensure that the party receives "not one vote" from Hispanics in the future.  This is disgraceful rhetoric from the leader of a deeply corrupt, quasi-failed state that lacks operational control and sovereignty over its own territory:

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"Starting today we are going to start an information campaign for Mexicans who live and work in the United States and for all Hispanics to inform them of what we are doing in Mexico and how this initiative by the Republicans, in addition to being irresponsible, is an offense against the people of Mexico, a lack of respect for our independence, our sovereignty," he said. "And if they do not change their attitude and think that they are going to use Mexico for their propaganda, electoral, and political purposes, we are going to call for them not to vote for that party, because it is interventionist, inhumane, hypocritical, and corrupt," Lopez Obrador said, later adding that Mexico would be insisting that "not one vote" goes to Republicans from Mexicans and Hispanics. Lopez Obrador was responding to calls for action from Republican lawmakers, including military action, to crack down on the continuing smuggling of fentanyl into the U.S.

Approximately 70,000 Americans died from fentanyl poisoning last year, which is an egregious and outrageous number. Much of the poison is being made in China and shipped directly into the US, as if it's targeted for us and our people. Mexico is the key link in this chain of death, and the Mexican government is unable or unwilling to deal with the problem. That ALMO would pound his chest like this shortly after the murder of two American citizens by cartels on his soil is even more brazen.  The cartel turned over the responsible parties and took the extraordinary step of leaving an apology note to the United States and the loved ones of the victims, insisting that the killings were not intentional.  It has been reported that the incident involved mistaken identity, but it again underscored how little control Mexico's nominal government has over the international crime syndicates operating with near impunity within its borders.  

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Will the Biden administration, which is trying to tack to the center on immigration (and crime, and energy) ahead of an expected re-election campaign, do anything about this?  Recall that Team Biden supposedly 'ran out of time' at a recent summit with the Mexicans, failing to address the border crisis.  It is totally unacceptable for a foreign leader to issue election meddling threats.  It's also quite arrogant for ALMO to assume his would-be propaganda campaign would have its intended effect among American voters, and it's embarrassing that he seems to think he would be able to dictate how American voters behave, based on their skin color and ethnic background.  It should be instructive to the electorate that the reportedly corrupt and soft-on-cartels Mexican leader is angry that one US political party is calling out his government's pathetic performance on an issue that is literally killing tens of thousands of our people.  Former Attorney General Bill Barr recently wrote that the US government must step up its actions against the cartels, criticizing ALMO by name:

Mexican cartels have flourished because Mexican administrations haven’t been willing to take them on. The exception was President Felipe Calderón (2006-12) who wanted to go full bore against the cartels, but American priorities were elsewhere at the time. Today, the cartels’ chief enabler is President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO. When he came to power at the end of 2018, he announced the switch to a policy of “hugs, not bullets” and shut down counternarcotics cooperation with the U.S. Under strong pressure from President Trump, he occasionally engaged in a high-profile operation to create the illusion of cooperation, but these were smoke screens. In reality, AMLO is unwilling to take action that would seriously challenge the cartels. He shields them by consistently invoking Mexico’s sovereignty to block the U.S. from taking effective action.

This posture should anger Americans. Under international law, a government has a duty to ensure that lawless groups don’t use its territory to carry out predations against its neighbors. If a government is unwilling or unable to do so, then the country being harmed has the right to take direct action to eliminate the threat, with or without the host country’s approval. Even if AMLO were willing to move against the cartels, Mexico can’t do the job itself. Its criminal-justice system is dysfunctional: 95% of all violent crimes go unpunished. Pervasive corruption at every level of Mexico’s government makes it almost impossible to mount effective law-enforcement or military operations without the cartels being tipped off in advance. The big cartels have become potent paramilitary forces, with heavily armed mobile units able to stand their ground against the Mexican military.

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Lopez Obrador's response to this and other tough comments from Republicans is to blame America, effectively take offense on behalf of the cartels, and promise to instruct Hispanic Americans to vote for Democrats. Revealing.  Is this electoral meddling acceptable to the Democrats and media because it's the 'right' sort of interference, which could help their tribe?  Will the White House stand up to these actions?  Or will they call anti-cartel, anti-fentanyl language "hate," as is their wont?

And in case you were wondering about the Biden brain trust's posture against China, where much of the deadly fentanyl originates, how's this for an indication?  


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