In a Sunday interview, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ) asserted that the Mexican drug cartels, who kill numerous Americans every year, are not terrorist organizations.
Menendez made the comments during a “Meet the Press” interview with NBC News when he was questioned about rising rumors from U.S. officials that it may be time to formally classify the cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
“Well, slapping a label isn’t going to affect anything in and of itself,” he added. “We ought to save that for internationally recognized terrorist groups. They undoubtedly have an impact on issues of national security. Instead of just naming the cartels, I’d rather take action that ultimately aims to eliminate them. You know, just because you call them a foreign terrorist group doesn’t mean anything.”
CHUCK TODD: Let me turn to what happened to those four Americans this weekend and what it revealed, which is that this Mexican administration has chosen a different approach to deal with the cartels. They don’t want to deal with them in the same way as the previous admin. did, and they do not appear to want to cooperate with the United States and obtain our assistance in dealing with these cartels. How do we handle this when the Mexican government might not be cooperating?
SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ: This is one of our biggest challenges, I suppose. When he first assumed office, President López Obrador referred to “Kisses, not guns.” That’s not working out very well, I guess. The Mexican government does not actually control the border villages along its border; instead, cartels do. To provide safety and security on its own soil and for foreign visitors is a duty that Mexico owes first and foremost to its own inhabitants. Thus, we must significantly increase our engagement with Mexico. Economics cannot be the only topic. Moreover, safety and security must be a concern. And I worry that both in terms of that and the state of democracy in Mexico, we are moving on the wrong path. Thus, we must address this immediate threat. Also, we must communicate to the Mexicans that they need to take security much more seriously. We can assist them. Our intelligence is strong. We can also divulge additional details. Yet, we want them to enforce it in their own nation.