U.S. Considering Reclassifying Cartels as Terrorists
WESLACO – An online petition is requesting the presidential administration change the designation of cartels to terrorists. It follows the attack on the Mormon family in northern Mexico.
The U.S. and Mexico diverge on whether the reclassification should happen.
A member of the LeBaron family who filed the petition spoke to El Universal. He posted the petition on White House online platform ending it with "they are terrorists, and it's time to acknowledge it."
The emerging term of “narco-terrorism” has been used by federal and state politicians in recent days. The LeBaron family is requesting they change it to just “terrorism.”
It's a loaded term, explained Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera who studies Mexico-U.S. relations and studies organized crime at George Mason University. The difference is in their intentions. While both groups attacks civilians, their purposes are different.
"The motivation was different: one is economic and one is political," she explained.
Terrorist groups try to influence the policy or conduct of a government, or even overthrow the government through violence. Cartels move drugs through routes they secure through violence, threats and corruption but for monetary gain.
Correa-Cabrera says an attack on a civilian family perpetrated by a terrorist group would have looked different.
"What is clear is that the motivation was not political, was not ideological, was not motivation that had the Mexican state or the Mexican president as a target," says Correa-Cabrera.
In a press conference with the Mexican president in attendance Monday, Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard says the Mexican administration is aware of the changes that would come with such a reclassification.
He says, "The topic of narco-terrorism has international judicial implications. Because North America has legislation that when a group is determined or declared a terrorist it triggers them to act in a direct way."
That means, “It would have major implication, military intervention would be a possibility," added Correa-Cabrera.
Mexico opposes that idea.
Ebrard added, "I think that the United States will not take that route because we're working together."
U.S. President Donald Trump may be more amenable to intervention than Mexico leads on.
In a tweet posted November 5, the Trump typed, "This is the time for Mexico, with help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president."
In an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Trump said, "Absolutely they will be designated…. I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process.”
"Surely, Mexico would never accept that," said Ebrard as he was closing out his statements in Monday's press conference.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stood silently behind him and then moved on to the next question.
The petition needs to collect over 98,000 signatures by December 24 to solicit a response from the White House.