Under Hagerty’s Questioning, Biden State Department Agrees on Need to Address Growing Mexico Challenges

March 15, 2023

Acknowledgement comes after escalating cartel violence and drug trafficking as well as attempts by Mexican President Lopez Obrador to deny responsibility, interfere in U.S. elections, and disrupt U.S. businesses

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today in a hearing elicited confirmation from Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols that the unaddressed deadly violence and drug trafficking against Americans emanating from criminal cartels that control significant parts of Mexico are unacceptable, that recent efforts by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to deny the lethal, U.S.-bound drug production in Mexico are not accurate, and that President Lopez Obrador’s threats to interfere with U.S. sovereignty and elections are not appropriate.

“Last Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador threatened to directly interfere in future U.S. Elections,” Hagerty said. “AMLO said this: ‘If they do not change their attitude and think that they’re going to use Mexico for their propaganda, electoral, and political purposes, we’re going to call for them’—meaning Mexicans and other Hispanics—’We’re going to call for them not to vote for that party.’”

When asked by Hagerty, Assistant Secretary Nichols confirmed that the State Department opposes foreign interference in U.S. elections and stated that “we ask that President Lopez Obrador respect U.S. sovereignty.”

Hagerty also highlighted the need to hold Mexican drug cartels responsible for their trafficking of fentanyl across the southern border, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and for the killing of two Americans kidnapped by Mexican drug cartels in Mexico last week, noting: “I think it’s quite clear that these cartels have flourished because the Lopez Obrador government has made a deliberate choice not to take them on.” “The protection of American citizens around the world is our highest priority,” said Assistant Secretary Nichols.

When asked about President Lopez Obrador’s recent statement that fentanyl is not produced in Mexico, Nichols confirmed: “Fentanyl is produced in Mexico.”
Hagerty concluded his questioning by highlighting that American businesses have faced autocratic and extra-legal expropriation in Mexico.

“President Obrador also continues to take arbitrary, punitive actions against U.S. businesses in Mexico, including threats of expropriation; you and I have talked about this before. I should add that we’re seeing a similar disturbing dynamic against U.S. businesses in other Western Hemisphere countries, including Honduras, which, as of last night, I understand is pivoting away from Taiwan, apparently preparing to recognize Communist China,” Hagerty said.

Assistant Secretary Nichols expressed that “promotion and defense of free markets access for American business is a priority for this Administration, and we believe that American jobs and American investment and trade are beneficial for countries around the hemisphere, not just the United States.”

“This committee, I’m certain, looks forward to working with the State Department to lock arms to right the ship with respect to election security here in America, with respect to the safety of Americans traveling in Mexico, with respect to cartels that are committing human and drug trafficking that are impacting our country, and certainly dealing with these expropriation threats coming from Mexico,” Hagerty concluded.

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