Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he would not permit a foreign intervention following a plan by the Trump administration to designate drug cartels based in Mexico as terrorist groups.
The United States‘s designation of groups as foreign terrorist organisations generally aims to disrupt their finances through the imposition of sanctions.
While the designation does not directly give authority for overseas military operations, many Mexicans are nervous that it would lead to unilateral US action against gangs in Mexico.
“Since 1914, there hasn’t been a foreign intervention in Mexico and we cannot permit that,” Lopez Obrador said on Friday at a regular news conference, referring to the US occupation of the port of Veracruz 105 years ago.
“Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory.”
He instead offered to cooperate more with the US on fighting drug gangs, which have shown their power through a series of battles with security forces and civilians in recent months.
Calls by conservatives in the US for the designation have grown since the killing of nine Americans with dual Mexican nationalities in Mexico earlier in November.
US Attorney General William Barr will visit Mexico next week to discuss further security cooperation, Mexico’s foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, had previously said.
The planned visit will be the highest-level meeting since the killing of the dual nationals.
“What we need to address organised crime is more mutual cooperation, not elements that will put distance between us or create hostilities,” said Ebrard on Friday.
Mexico has long been plagued by deadly violence with drug cartels and criminal gangs fighting for control of territory.
The total number of victims of violent deaths since Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018 is approaching 20,000, according to Mexico’s National Public Security System.