Trump plan to label Mexican cartels as terrorists could backfire, Mexico, consultants warn


WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Information) – Mexico on Wednesday rejected “interventionism” after U.S. President Donald Trump mentioned he’ll designate the Latin American nation’s cartels as terrorist organizations, whereas a former U.S. official warned of unintended outcomes from such a transfer.

Designating teams as international terrorist organizations is geared toward disrupting their funds by the imposition of U.S. sanctions, together with asset freezes and journey bans, on them and people and entities that assist them.

Trump mentioned in feedback broadcast on Tuesday that Mexico’s cartels “will” be designated.

A rising refrain of conservative voices in america has referred to as for Mexican cartels to be categorized as terrorist teams after the killing in Mexico earlier this month of 9 American moms and youngsters with twin Mexican nationality.

Talking in an interview with former Fox Information host Invoice O’Reilly, Trump mentioned he had been working for 90 days on the method, which he mentioned was essential to cease drug traffickers whose merchandise kills tens of 1000’s of Individuals

Nonetheless, Mexico has warned it may reply in type to such a transfer, whereas immigration attorneys mentioned calling traffickers terrorists may in some instances make Mexicans eligible for asylum.

A former State Division official who ran the international terrorist designation course of mentioned making use of that standing to purely felony organizations would harm bilateral relations, trigger financial hurt and threat degrading this system.

It might additionally present principally “symbolic” advantages to america, Jason Blazakis, who oversaw designation course of on the State Division’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau till final 12 months, advised Information.

“You’re blurring the traces between criminality and terrorism and that’s extraordinarily problematic” he mentioned.

“The place would you cease?” he mentioned, including that dozens of felony gangs all over the world may change into eligible for a similar standing.

The U.S. State Division contains dozens of organizations on its listing of terrorist teams. Most are Islamist, separatist or Marxist insurgents. In Latin America, left-wing guerrilla and right-wing paramilitaries, each concerned in drug trafficking, have up to now appeared on the listing.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador mentioned Mexico would take up the difficulty with america after the Thanksgiving vacation on Thursday and that he had requested his international minister to guide talks.

“Cooperation, sure, intervention, no,” Lopez Obrador mentioned in a morning information convention when requested about Trump’s feedback.

FILE PHOTO: Troopers assigned to the Nationwide Guard are seen whereas giving safety for the caravan of kinfolk on their journey to bury Rhonita Miller-Lebaron and Dawna Ray Langford and their youngsters who have been killed by unknown assailants, in Bavispe, Sonora state, Mexico November eight, 2019. Information/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Picture

Mexican Overseas Minister Marcelo Ebrard mentioned all talks would search to defend Mexican sovereignty, a delicate problem in a rustic that misplaced a big a part of its territory in a battle with america within the 1800s.

Ebrard earlier mentioned a terrorist designation may, underneath U.S. regulation, allow america to behave immediately towards the risk if it selected.

Trump has repeatedly provided army help, however Mexico has persistently declined such a suggestion. It was not clear underneath what authorized foundation, if any, america may intervene unilaterally.

Ebrard additionally instructed that such a transfer could be countered by Mexico with an equal authorized response.

Mexico has already opened the door to such a response, by earlier within the 12 months classifying a mass-shooting in El Paso through which Mexican residents died as terrorism towards Mexicans.


Designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations may have ramifications for Mexican immigration instances that may be “horribly difficult,” mentioned Washington D.C.-based immigration lawyer Steven Schulman.

The U.S. authorities has lengthy argued that Mexicans fleeing drug cartel violence don’t qualify for U.S. asylum for the reason that cartels are felony organizations working purely for financial achieve however designating them as terrorists may change that and bolster some claims for refuge.

Complicated issues, the designation may additionally find yourself barring individuals who have had any type of contact with the cartels, together with kinfolk of cartel members with no felony historical past or anybody who paid an extortion payment or was coerced into aiding them not directly, nonetheless minor, mentioned Schulman.

U.S. legal guidelines ban immigration by anybody who has supplied “materials assist” to terrorists underneath guidelines referred to as the Terrorism Associated Inadmissibility Grounds, except they’re granted exemptions.

“Each asylum interview of a Mexican would have a separate examination of their interplay with the cartels,” mentioned Schulman. The designation would additionally elevate questions on whether or not to incorporate Central American gangs, whose brutality Trump has usually highlighted, he mentioned.

“You begin pulling the strings on this one and you may see how shortly every part comes unraveled.”

Consultants foresee extra stress from Trump over Mexican drug gangs within the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, echoing his earlier use of tariff threats to steer Mexico to clamp down on unlawful immigration.

FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears to be like on as he attends a army parade in celebration of the 109th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution at Zocalo Sq. in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico November 20, 2019. Information/Edgard Garrido

Trump mentioned Lopez Obrador, whom he thought-about “a great man,” had declined his earlier provides to “allow us to go in and clear it out.”

“However as some level one thing must be carried out,” he mentioned.

Reporting by Jonathan Landay in Washington; Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico Metropolis; and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Enhancing by Dave Graham, Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman