Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador has told Washington to deal with its own “problem of social decay” instead of blaming drug labs in his country
The fentanyl crisis claiming tens of thousands of American lives every year is of the US’ own making, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador, known as AMLO, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” AMLO continued, advising Americans to “take care of their problem of social decay” instead of waging literal war on drug cartels.
The Mexican leader argued the addiction epidemic north of the border had more to do with social ills like single-parent families, parents who evict grown children, and grown children who stash their elderly relatives in care homes “and visit them once a year,” than any issues on the supply side, even though his government has seized tens of millions of doses of the drug in recent years.
AMLO’s statement followed a call by US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to “unleash the fury and might of the US against these cartels.” While stressing that he did not want to “invade Mexico,” the notoriously belligerent Republican argued the Pentagon should “destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans.”
The Mexican president denounced Graham’s words as “an insult to Mexico and a lack of respect for our independence and sovereignty,” threatening to tell all Mexicans and Hispanics living in the US to vote against the “inhuman and interventionist” Republican Party.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard agreed that the senator’s proposal was “catastrophic” for cooperation between the two countries. “They know that the fentanyl epidemic did not originate in Mexico, but in the United States,” the diplomat tweeted on Thursday, arguing “more work is being done against fentanyl now than ever” and citing the recent seizure of six tons of fentanyl that otherwise would have gone into American bodies.
Drug cartels that previously moved heroin and cocaine have transitioned to the much more lucrative synthetic fentanyl and methamphetamine, buying precursor chemicals from overseas and making the drugs in massive superlabs. While fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, is rarely used in Mexico, the government recently launched a campaign to warn citizens away from it, using images taken from drug-infested areas of US cities.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 379 million doses of fentanyl last year, enough to kill every person in the US. About 70,000 Americans die of opioid overdoses every year, a number that has been steadily increasing since the 1990s, when Purdue Pharmaceuticals’ blockbuster painkiller OxyContin – marketed as non-habit-forming – introduced millions of Americans to addiction.