Mexico Rejects ‘Interventionism’ After Trump Pledges Terrorist Designation for Cartels

The country’s foreign minister said it would ‘never accept any action that violates our national sovereignty.’

By Claire Hansen, Staff Writer Nov. 27, 2019, at 12:56 p.m.

President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rejected "interventionism" Wednesday. PEDRO GONZALEZ CASTILLO/GETTY IMAGES

MEXICO'S PRESIDENT ON Wednesday rejected "interventionism" following President Donald Trump's statement that he was working to designate the country's drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.

"Cooperation, yes, interventionism, no," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said when asked by reporters about Trump's comments. He said has asked the country's foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, to set up talks with the U.S.

Ebrard said Wednesday he was "already in communication" with the U.S. government.

Trump told former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in a radio clip aired Tuesday that Mexican drug cartels "will be designated" as foreign terrorist organizations. Trump said his administration has been working on the designation for the past 90 days and noted that he has previously told López Obrador the U.S. military could be sent into the country to help combat organized crime.

"I've actually offered him to let us go in and clean it out and he so far has rejected the offer," Trump said. "But at some point, [something] has to be done."

Mexico's drug cartels garnered increased attention earlier month after the slaying of nine dual U.S.-Mexican citizens – six of them children – who were a part of a fundamentalist Mormon community in northern Mexico.

After the killings, Trump tweeted that it was "time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth."

Under U.S. law, groups that threaten U.S. safety can be designated as foreign terrorist organizations. Foreign institutions or government agencies that aid terrorist organizations can draw the ire of the U.S., and it is illegal for any U.S. citizen to knowingly support the group. Members are also barred from entering the U.S., and U.S. financial companies are prohibited from providing services to terrorist groups.

Any designation could threaten the U.S.-Mexico relationship, which has proved crucial to the Trump administration's efforts to decrease the flow of migrants entering the country illegally across the southern U.S. border.

Trump's comments prompted an immediate response from the Mexican government Tuesday.

Ebrard tweeted shortly after his remarks aired that the Mexican government would "never accept any action that violates our national sovereignty."

Ebrard's office also released a substantial statement on the matter, pledging to seek a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"As in other issues on the bilateral agenda, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will promote dialogue and a roadmap that allows us to move forward to reduce the flow of weapons and money to organized crime from the United States to Mexico," as well as drugs that travel north from Mexico, the statement said.