The Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee this week condemned a threat from Mexico’s president to actively campaign against the Republican Party after GOP lawmakers threatened to hold Mexico accountable for violent drug cartel activity along and across the southwestern U.S. border.
After the cartel-related death of two Americans this month, Republicans pushed the Biden administration to list drug cartels as terror organizations, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned that if Mexico does not get tougher on the cartels, then Mexico is an “enemy of the United States.”
That prompted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to warn that Mexico might start an “information campaign” to persuade Mexican Americans to leave the Republican Party. Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., who led a delegation of committee members to Mexico this week, rejected Obrador’s comments as “unacceptable.”
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“Recent comments about American elections are completely unacceptable and undermine our shared goals of promoting safety and encouraging peaceful trade between our nations,” said Smith, R-Mo., in a late Monday statement.
Obrador had warned that Mexico’s campaign would be aimed at telling Mexican Americans “how this initiative by the Republicans, in addition to being irresponsible, is an offense against the people of Mexico.”
“And if they do not change their attitude and think that they are going to use Mexico for their propaganda, electoral, and political purposes, we are going to call for them not to vote for that party, because it is interventionist, inhumane, hypocritical, and corrupt,” the Mexican leader said.
Smith led Republicans and Democrats to Mexico to meet with Obrador this week and press him to adhere to the three-way trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada known as USMCA.
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There has been growing tension between the two countries over Mexico’s recent ban on genetically modified corn grown in the U.S. Even White House officials have signaled their concern over the potentially billions of dollars that could be lost.
While there, the chairman said he also condemned the kidnappings of Americans in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, which resulted in the deaths of two of the U.S. citizens.
“We appreciate President López Obrador meeting with our bipartisan delegation where we reaffirmed the importance of the longstanding partnership between our countries and its impact on American farmers and workers,” Smith said. “U.S. crop producers and energy investors are relying on Mexico to honor its USMCA obligations and to treat U.S. biotech crops fairly… As America’s largest trading market, access to the Mexican consumer is vital for American family farmers, manufacturers, and energy producers.”
Smith said lawmakers also “reiterated to President López Obrador our shared commitment to ending cartel violence and the export of fentanyl across our border, which has harmed Mexicans and Americans alike.”
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“The delegation condemns the recent kidnapping and murder of Americans and appreciates the Mexican government’s assistance in pursuing justice for the two slain Americans. Creating a secure border will ensure our countries can continue economic cooperation that allows our citizens to thrive,” the chairman said.
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Obrador declared that Mexico was “safer” than the U.S. during a Monday press conference while facing scrutiny over his government’s response to the kidnappings and its ability to control crime.
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