Breaking tradition with previous U.S. ambassadors to Mexico, Christopher Landau publicly knocks President López Obrador’s perceived inaction against drug trafficking organizations and describes him as actively trying to avoid confronting criminal groups lest they distract from his political agenda focused on social programs.
Forget tweets about gourmet delicacies in Mexico and shopping trips to the famous Mercado de Jamaica, now that his tenure as ambassador has ended the gloves are off.
President López Obrador never one to miss an opportunity to advance his political agenda, wastes no time in responding to former Ambassador Landau. The president states he has utmost respect for the previous U.S. envoy but poses that in the United States they might think differently and consider “extermination and massacres” as viable public policies. In contrast, he says, his government is a “humanist one” and wants to achieve peace with justice.
President López Obrador doubles down and reaffirms his decision of freeing Ovidio Guzmán after an Army raid gone wrong had the potential of unleashing high levels of lethal violence in the city of Culiacán. He uses this opportunity of being accused of having a “laissez faire” attitude towards cartels to not only refute the neoliberal language he is known to revile, but also reframe the events of October 17, 2019 in a narrative that minimizes the botched Army operation and enhances decision-making skills.
Detractors of U.S.-Mexico security cooperation fall in line with President López Obrador and see Landau’s comments as further proof that the U.S. does not want cooperation but an imposition of its agenda. Landau’s comments also fuel calls for “non-intervention” and “respect for national sovereignty”.
Advocates of deepening U.S.-Mexico security cooperation shake their heads and look at each other, wondering if the last few years have taught us nothing about how to achieve desirable outcomes for both countries. Advocates for greater integration reiterate that pointing fingers at each other has never improved citizen security in the North American region.
Moral of the Story
With cooperation as the desirable outcome, enter shared responsibility. Constructive paths include but are not limited to: the U.S. discussing viable options for stemming the flow of firearms and ammunition to Mexico. Mexico seriously addressing corruption and impunity. Both countries integrating a fentanyl interdiction taskforce.