The Chief of Staff of Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Fabián Medina, resigned on Wednesday and his reasons for leaving are unclear. At the time of writing, his two sentence-long letter of resignation only stated that “in view of the Foreign Ministry’s situation” he was leaving his post. Beyond the political reasons that may be related to his resignation, his departure leaves an important void in the arms trafficking agenda pushed by the López Obrador administration vis-à-vis the United States.
Just last week, Medina and I participated at an event hosted by the Center for U.S-Mexican Studies at UC San Diego (where I currently work) where he discussed the urgency of stopping firearms trafficking from the U.S. to Mexico and advocated in favor of cooperation. The event was organized in partnership with Mexico’s Consulate in San Diego where Ambassador Carlos González Gutiérrez moderated the discussion that included participants from the Center for American Progress and the civil society initiative Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico.
This was not the only event in the U.S. for Medina. Last year, after the tragic shooting at El Paso, Texas that killed 22 people, Medina spoke on the need to stop arms trafficking. In January, he also participated at an event organized by the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas El Paso where he stated that “The Mexican government is going to propose specific actions to U.S. authorities, including intrusive and non-intrusive inspections of vehicles at the border, as well as the use of technology to stop arms trafficking”. Furthermore, just a few days ago he attended a series of workshops organized with the European Union aimed at improving capacities within the Mexican government in relation to stemming arms trafficking.
It is not an exaggeration to say that arms trafficking is a priority issue within Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and that Medina served as point man. As I previously wrote, in May of 2020 Minister Ebrard sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy requesting information on the controversial gun-running operation “Fast and Furious” that allowed firearms trafficking from the U.S. to Mexico as a ploy to lead them to the arrest of top members of criminal groups. Medina also participated as an author of a special issue published by the Foreign Ministry on Illicit Arms Trafficking to Mexico and penned several op-eds on this matter.
Medina’s sudden departure begs the question: who will manage this key area of the bilateral relationship? Equally important, should the issue be sidelined, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau will (unfortunately) be proven right: Mexico uses firearms trafficking to chastise the U.S. but rejects actual cooperation.
* Cecilia Farfán Méndez is head of Security Research Programs at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Twitter: @farfan_cc