Three women and six children, members of the LeBarón community, who hold dual Mexican and U.S. citizenship, were brutally assassinated along the border between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. The assassination was used as an excuse by U.S. President Donald Trump to take a stance on Twitter that is as bellicose as it is interventionist: He called on Mexico to wage war on the drug cartels, and offered his country’s help to “wipe [these criminal organizations] off the face of the earth.” He later issued other statements on a similar note.
What the Republican magnate said is arrogant, inasmuch as no one asked him for police or military aid, and no one invited him to give his opinion about the domestic security situation of a country that is not his own. If to this we add the long track record of the United States as an invading and interventionist power (in the world in general, but also against Mexico in particular), we can only characterize his impulsive posts as acts of an undesirable, reprehensible and uncalled-for interventionism.
Nonetheless, it is necessary to remember that this arrogance remained in the tone of an offer, without crossing over into threats or attempts to intervene. In this context, the response of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is adequate and proportional. López Obrador stressed that prosecution of the criminal organizations would be carried out with “independence and sovereignty”; pointed out that all bilateral cooperation on the issue will have to take place within the framework of applicable international law; rejected the intervention of a foreign government; and reaffirmed the national will to abandon the irrationality of war and authoritarianism.
Furthermore, the U.S. president’s tactless words have to be considered as part of his natural belligerent and aggressive rhetoric. This rhetoric is not necessarily directed to those to whom it is formally addressed—in this case, the Mexican government—but rather primarily to warmongering and chauvinistic segments of the U.S. electorate.
On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the crime problem that is buffeting large areas of the country is transnational in character. To a great extent, its origins and catalysts are located outside of Mexico: It is well known that sharing a 1,950-mile border with the principal consumer of drugs and the biggest arms manufacturer in the world inevitably has an adverse effect on public safety and the rule of law.
These circumstances are part of the climate of violence afflicting the area in which the LeBarón communities are located, along the routes of gun and drug smugglers, where public safety has been deteriorating for more than a decade.
Moreover, it must be remembered that criminal violence in the country has been exacerbated as a result of an anti-crime strategy which has granted an inappropriately wide scope to U.S. government agencies in the areas of intelligence gathering and planning, and even in decision making. In the context of the “war against drug trafficking” decreed by [former Mexican President] Felipe Calderón, the U.S. agencies for gun control (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and the war on drugs (Drug Enforcement Administration) supplied assault weapons to one of the cartels operating in the country and participated in money laundering of the proceeds of their illegal activities.
The subservience described above has lasting repercussions, one of which is the entrenched violence that every day produces repugnant and deplorable losses of human life. The U.S. government, no matter who is in power, has to understand that Mexico has decided to leave this disastrous strategy behind, and that it is its sovereign right to chart its own course in this and in other matters.