The public-facing approach Andrés Manuel López Obrador deploys when dealing with political pressure from the US is typically belligerent, manic and laughably incoherent.
The Mexican president provided all three this week in reaction to the growth of bipartisan support in Washington for taking significant action against the drug cartels that rule much of Mexico by designating them as the foreign terror organizations they are — or even to the point of realistically considering an Authorization of Use of Military Force against the narcoterrorists.
In response to seeing this idea receive new backing by members of Congress, including Democratic representative Vicente Gonzalez, as well as endorsements by the entire GOP presidential field, AMLO let loose in a fiery press conference Thursday that included absurd denials, accusations of racism and outright political threats to interfere in US elections.
The occasion — a visit by White House homeland security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, purportedly to improve the US-Mexican relationship to combat the cartels — sparked a bout of absurd denialism from the president. According to AMLO, fentanyl is a drug problem entirely contained in the United States. Sounding like a socially conservative critic of Western decadence, he described drug use as a sign of the decay of American family values. That’s in contrast to the resilient Mexican households marked by respect for tradition and their elders.
“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said. “Why don’t they take care of their problem of social decay?”
He went on to recite a list of reasons why Americans might be turning to fentanyl, including single-parent families, parents who kick grown children out of their houses and people who put elderly relatives in old-age homes “and visit them once a year.
The claim is, of course, an absurd lie. All experts in America and Mexico agree that fentanyl overwhelmingly comes from across our southern border, and that the Mexicans make it themselves after acquiring precursor chemicals, typically from China. And while tracking consumption in Mexico itself is low, that’s in all likelihood because the government looks the other way — Tijuana in particular is rife with fentanyl, with some pharmacies even mixing it and passing it off as legitimate drugs.
That’s one reason why, the same day AMLO insisted that this was an issue for the US, not Mexico, his government also appointed Rosa Icela Rodríguez Velázquez as their fentanyl czar. Strange move for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Things turned darker and more threatening from there, as the president outlined his intent to launch a direct Mexican attack on American democracy through what he described as an information campaign to ensure not one Mexican or Hispanic vote goes to Republican candidates.
“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.”
Observers of AMLO should understand where this will probably go from here. In the coming weeks, the Mexican president is likely to become more vocal, more belligerent and more insulting of suggestions that his government’s approach to the cartels is insufficient at best and corrupt at worst. Psychologically incapable of avoiding responding to these policy considerations from members of Congress, AMLO is making it all the more likely that the pressure to act, on the White House and on Congress, will only increase.
Everyone knows that the approach of the past few years has strengthened the cartels past the point where Mexico could solve this problem even if they wanted to. And under AMLO’s approach, they don’t. They’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist, until the United States is forced to act in defense of the American people and against the terrorist organizations given constant aid and comfort by our southern neighbor and its feckless leadership class.