- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has warned the U.S. against intervening in domestic matters following the kidnapping of four Americans in the Mexican border city of Matamoros last week.
- Some U.S. lawmakers have called for a more aggressive approach to Mexican cartels.
- López Obrador has cautioned against foreign interference, saying the incident was a confrontation between groups and that the Mexican government is working on it.
President Joe Biden has been warned against intervening in Mexico’s domestic affairs by its President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, amid the latest developments in last week’s kidnapping of four Americans.
On Tuesday, Mexican officials announced that two of the U.S. citizens who had been kidnapped in a Mexican border city just south of Brownsville, Texas – Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard – had been found dead. The other two – Latavia “Tay” McGee and Eric James Williams – were rescued and returned to the U.S. A suspect is in custody.
During his daily press conference, López Obrador addressed the news, saying that Mexican authorities were “working and cooperating” with their American counterparts, but that his government wouldn’t allow “foreign countries” to intervene.
“We don’t meddle to try to see what U.S. criminal gangs distribute fentanyl in the United States,” López Obrador said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, left, at a parade on November 20, 2022, in Mexico City, Mexico, and, right, President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Kempsville Recreation Center on February 28, 2023, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. López Obrador has cautioned Biden about meddling in Mexico’s domestic affairs following the kidnapping last week of four American citizens south of the border. Manuel Velasquez/Anna Moneymaker/Stringer
In light of last week’s kidnapping, some Republican lawmakers have called for the U.S. to take a more aggressive approach to the cartels on the other side of the southern border.
On Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham said he was prepared to introduce legislation that would “set the stage” for U.S. military force in Mexico and designate certain drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“I would tell the Mexican government if you don’t clean up your act, we’re going to clean it up for you,” Graham told Fox News.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has echoed these remarks, tweeting that the U.S. military should be stationed at the border and “strategically strike” to take out the cartels, which she said “control” the Mexican government and people.
“Our military is competent and should take [the cartels] out swiftly,” the Georgia Republican said. “Make an example out of these monsters.”
Matamoros, the city in the Tamaulipas state where the Americans had traveled to last week, has been a stronghold for the drug-trafficking Gulf Cartel, which has used the city as a key pipeline for moving illegal drugs across the border.
The latest incident has drawn national attention to the violent realities that many Mexicans have lived in for years. In Tamaulipas alone, thousands have disappeared since the government declared war on the cartels in 2006 and the terror in the area has only been escalated by wars between the factions.
In a statement made Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said that the four U.S. citizens were shot at by gunmen shortly after crossing into Mexico last Friday, The gunmen then herded the Americans from their white minivan to another vehicle before they fled the scene with them.
Video of the incident was shared on social media, showing men with assault rifles moving the four people into the bed of a pickup truck in broad daylight.
A travel advisory has been in place for Tamaulipas since October. The State Department has issued a “Do Not Travel” advisory for the state, noting that “Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico.”
On Monday, López Obrador did not mention the cosmetic medical procedure that the Americans had reportedly traveled to Mexico for, instead offering a theory that the group had crossed the border to buy medicines.
“There was a confrontation between groups, and they were detained,” López Obrador said. “The whole government is working on it.”
Newsweek reached out to the Biden administration for comment.
Update 03/08/2023 6.05am: This story was updated to include the names of the Americans who died in the kidnapping in Mexico last week.