US President Donald Trump said he will hold off on designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorists at the request of his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, adding they will “deal decisively” with them together.
Calling Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, “a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us,” Trump said that he will “temporarily” hold off the terrorist designation despite all the necessary work already being completed.
….will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2019
The president initially vowed the designation late last month in response to a grisly cartel-linked killing of an American family of 9 south of the border, calling on Mexico to “wage war” on organized crime. The request was rebuffed by Mexico City, however, with Obrador insisting “we can’t have foreign forces on our territory for military ends,” though he still left “cooperation” on the table.
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Earlier this year, under threat of new US tariffs, Mexico agreed to dispatch some 15,000 soldiers to its border to help quell the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. President Trump may have been referring to that move when he commended Obrador for “working” with Washington.
The Mexican government has come under fire for its handling of cartel violence, which marred last year’s election season with a wave of assassinations. Despite waging a low level military campaign against the armed criminal groups for years, the government was forced to release the son of the notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman in October, finding itself outgunned by the cartels. Officials have since called for a less violent approach focused on negotiations, but it remains unclear whether the new strategy will produce better results.
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