No intervention is needed: Mexico tells U.S.

Manuel Lopez Obrador

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said: Mexico does not need “foreign intervention” to deal with its security issues.

The Mexican President was making comments following an offer of “help” from U.S. President Donald Trump after the ambush and murder of a family from the U.S.

“It’s a firm no,” he said on Tuesday morning.

He said: “Of course this is painful, and we wish it never happened. But riddling the place with bullets, massacring people, only using firearms and spilling blood, will not resolve the problem.”

“But foreign soldiers are not coming to Mexico,” he said.

Lopez Obrador’s comments came shortly after Trump tweeted that it was time for Mexico to wage war on drug cartels and “wipe them off the face of the earth” with “help” from the U.S.

In an earlier tweet, Trump said the cartels “have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army.”

Later, after speaking with Trump, Lopez Obrador said he thanked the U.S. president for his offer and assured him that Mexico’s government institutions would “ensure justice was done.”

Nine family members with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, mostly women and children, were gunned down on Monday when their three vehicles were ambushed and attacked by criminal gangs in the Sierra Madre Occidental region.

Two of the women were driving a group of children from Bavispe, in Sonora, to a Mormon community known as La Mora, in neighboring Chihuahua, at around 1pm.

One vehicle, driven by Rhonita Miller LeBaron, 30, had a flat tyre, and the second car turned back to get help, according to the reports.

The gang attacked the first car, killing Ms LeBaron and her four children — Howard, 12; Krystal, 10; and eight-month-old twins Titus and Tiana. They then set the vehicle on fire.

When the rest of the group returned to the site in two vehicles, they were also ambushed.

Dawna Ray Langford, 43, was driving the second car. Her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, aged two, were killed, as was passenger Christina Marie Langford, 29.

A six-month-old baby, Fe Maria, the daughter of Christina Langford, was found unharmed, hidden on the floor of the car.

On Tuesday night, it emerged that one of the children, 13-year-old Devin Langford, witnessed his mother being murdered and escaped to raise the alarm – walking 13 miles, for six hours through the desert. He hid his six siblings before setting off to seek help.

Six children have been rescued – at least four of them injured.

Mexico has one of the world’s largest Mormon communities, with 1.45 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints living in the country, according to their website. They worship in 1,846 congregations across the country, but mainly in the north.

Reports suggest the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity, with the group mistaking the family for their rivals. Lopez Obrador said Mexico was prepared to work with the FBI on the case “provided Mexico’s independence is upheld.”

The pioneers arrived in Mexico in the late 1870s, sent from Utah through Arizona to colonize the area.

The LeBarons are descendants of Mormons who moved to Mexico in 1924, after disagreeing with the central church over polygamy.

For almost a century, they have lived quietly in farming communities, maintaining close ties with relatives in Utah, where a large number of Mormons are based, and speaking both Spanish and English.

Yet in recent years, they have been targeted for their comparative wealth, as organized crime groups gained control of the region. In 2009, a prominent member of the clan, Benjamin LeBaron, 31, was shot dead after publicly denouncing the drug traffickers, who had earlier abducted his younger brother, demanding a $1 million ransom – which the family refused to pay. The killers left a message saying they were retaliating for LeBaron’s activism.

Mr Lopez Obrador was elected a year ago on a promise to end the drugs violence that has ravaged the country since former president Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in 2006.

Yet in the first nine months of this year 26,000 people have been killed – an average of around 95 a day. This year is on track to be among the bloodiest in Mexico’s history.

Last month, heavily-armed cartel members terrorized the city of Culiacan riding through the streets with machine guns mounted on vehicles, as gun battles with police rage for hours. Days earlier, 13 Mexican police officers were ambushed and killed by cartel gunman in a separate attack.

Absolutely absurd

Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the US drugs enforcement agency (DEA), who spent 20 years infiltrating Mexican and Colombian cartels, said Trump’s statement was “absolutely absurd”.

He told The Telegraph: “The US army is good at what it does, but is not trained to engage in counter-drug operations. Trump has absolutely no understanding of sovereignty issues, nor the drug problem.”

Mexico, first stop for Argentina’s Fernandez

The prospect of more united Latin American progressive forces grew on Monday after the incoming president of Argentina and his Mexican counterpart discussed reviving a regional diplomatic alternative to the Washington-backed Organization of American States (OAS).

Since last year, anger at corruption, inequality and poverty have pushed conservatives out in Mexico and Argentina, while fueling protests in recent weeks that forced Ecuador and Chile to water down liberal economic policies.

Argentina’s president-elect Alberto Fernandez used his first foreign trip since winning office last month to proclaim a new era of progressive cooperation, in an apparent bid to demonstrate he will not be isolated despite South American neighbor Brazil’s right-wing government.

“I am determined to make Latin America united again, to again join forces to face the challenge of globalization in another way,” Fernandez told reporters in Mexico’s presidential palace after meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Next year, Mexico will assume the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a regional body established in Venezuela during late President Hugo Chavez’s government that has lost influence in recent years.

“That is a chance to boost one of the organisms, one of the spaces for integration that have been forgotten recently,” Fernandez said of the organization, seen by some on the left as a future counterweight to the OAS, which they argue is a vehicle for U.S. influence in Latin America.

Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for Latin America lent credence to the idea of the region’s second and third largest economies working together from opposite ends of the continent to revive the grouping known as CELAC.

“Mexico and Argentina have in front of them the opportunity to promote the repositioning of Latin America in the world,” Maximiliano Reyes wrote in the La Jornada daily.

Apart from managing Mexico’s relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, Lopez Obrador has not taken a prominent global role so far, skipping events like the G-20 Summit and the U.N. General Assembly.

However, he has stepped back from his predecessor’s robust criticism of Venezuela’s current socialist leader President Nicolas Maduro, and, instead pursuing Mexico’s traditional policy of non-intervention in other countries’ affairs.

Under U.S. sanctions and declared an illegitimate president by right-leaning governments in the region, Maduro praised Lopez Obrador and Fernandez in a speech in Cuba on Sunday, calling them leaders of a new progressive front in Latin America.

“New winds are blowing,” said Maduro, who has presided over an economic meltdown and who is accused of abuses by rights groups.

Mexico and Argentina’s new foreign policy, combined with the protests and allegations of rights violations by Chilean security forces is a positive development for Venezuela.

Still, when asked if he would pursue a stronger alliance with like-minded governments in the region, Lopez Obrador demurred on Monday, stressing he had a “very good” relationship with Trump.

When asked to comment on Maduro’s praise for him, Lopez Obrador again sought to occupy the middle ground. “Not to show off, but the same thing president Maduro is saying, president Trump is saying.”

The Mexican president’s return to Mexico’s non-interventionist stance was equally important and was acting as a “wall of contention” against those interested in meddling in other countries, said Ackerman, a constitutional law expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who is close to Lopez Obrador’s administration.

Argentine President-elect Alberto Fernández met with his Mexican soon-to-be counterpart Monday seeking to boost bilateral and regional cooperation in his first foreign trip since winning election last month.

Fernández said topics of discussion with Andrés Manuel López Obrador in their private conversations at Mexico’s National Palace included improving what he described as a deteriorated commercial relationship and mutual concerns over political upheaval in countries like Chile and Ecuador. He said they barely touched on the political standoff in Venezuela because both men’s stances are well-known.

Fernández said the two shared a similar vision of how to see the Americas and the world, and outlined a regional vision prioritizing equality and boosting marginalized people.

“They are alternatives to what has ruled in recent years, for example in Argentina, and it is a return to finding a political system that returns the equity lost in Latin America, the equilibrium lost in Latin America, the social equality lost in Latin America,” Fernández said in a news conference following the encounter.

He expressed “satisfaction in meeting with someone who thinks so similarly to me.”

The likes of Brazil and Colombia are run by conservative governments with which Fernández has little in common ideologically. Neighboring Chile is both conservative-led and in the midst of deadly political protests, and analysts say visiting there would have been seen as validating the government’s use of force against demonstrators.

So the president-elect turned to the northern hemisphere and López Obrador, a like-minded, center-left politician who’s often referred to by his initials, “AMLO”, and who regularly espouses nonconfrontation and nonintervention in others’ affairs as a cornerstone of Mexico’s foreign policy since taking office last December.

Argentina is mired in a crisis of its unknown with rampant inflation, deep indebtedness and widespread poverty, and Fernández said his inauguration Dec. 10 “is not a magical date” after which the problems he blames on his predecessor will be quickly solved.

”On Dec. 10 the government changes, the economic reality does not,” he warned, adding that Argentina’s external debt rose in the last three years to 95% of GDP, 40% of his compatriots will be in poverty when he takes office and resolving the crisis won’t be easy.

As for the debt, he said: “It’s not that we don’t want to pay … obligations must be met. What they must understand is that we cannot fulfill it by asking our people for more sacrifice.”

Fernández said Argentina and Mexico share deep cultural ties and Argentina owes the North American nation “an eternal debt of gratitude” for taking in the thousands who fled to political exile during the military dictatorship decades ago.

He said the commercial relationship fell by the wayside and now the challenge is to build it back up. Later Monday he was to meet with Mexican private sector leaders to encourage them to do business in Argentina, and he said he hoped to meet with billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the world’s wealthiest men.

“Argentina needs investment,” Fernández said.

“To what extent we can we are going to try to help in the acquisition of goods produced in Argentina so the people of Argentina — with their new government — can confront the economic crisis and so there may be growth and well-being in Argentina,” López Obrador said Monday.

Debt is a problem that must be resolved

Argentina’s debt is a problem that the incoming administration must resolve, said Alberto Fernandez, said on Monday, during a news conference in Mexico.

Speaking on his first overseas trip as the next president of the South American nation, Fernandez criticized the debt load his administration will inherit.

“The speed with which debt was taken on and the characteristics of the debt were impressive, because the debt is very large and it must be met in the very short term,” he said.

“That is what we have to try to solve.”

Argentina shoulders about $100 billion in sovereign debt.

The center-left Fernandez also had choice words for the International Monetary Fund, which he said was partly to blame for Argentina’s economic woes.

The IMF extended a credit line of $57 billion to the recession- and inflation-racked country last year, when a run on the peso currency sparked concerns about a possible sovereign bond default.

“As we have said over and over again, the International Monetary Fund is also responsible for what is happening in Argentina, and we don’t like the monetary fund,” Fernandez said.

The IMF deal, negotiated with outgoing President Mauricio Macri, has been in limbo since the Aug. 11 primary election.

Fernandez’s bigger-than-expected margin of victory in the primary pummeled the peso currency and sparked fresh debt fears.




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