During the recent American election season, Mexico has once again become a focal point of Republican rhetoric. This time, however, the discourse has escalated to the point of advocating for military action against Mexican drug cartels. The majority of Republican candidates, during the first primary debate, expressed support for bombing drug labs in Mexico, which are responsible for the production of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even suggested deploying special forces to Mexico should he win the presidency.
The United States is currently grappling with a fentanyl overdose crisis. Since 2014, the drug has been the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 45. In 2021 alone, approximately 70,000 Americans died from synthetic opioids, with fentanyl implicated in the majority of these cases. The drug, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, is primarily sourced from Mexico, where cartels import the necessary chemicals from China and manufacture the drug in secret labs.
More About Politics Than Reality
However, the increasingly aggressive stance of the Republican party towards Mexico is more rooted in politics than in the realities of the drug crisis. Former President Donald Trump is known to have considered missile strikes against Mexican drug labs during his term, and his influence continues to shape the party’s approach. The situation is further complicated by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s denial of fentanyl production in Mexico and his restrictions on the operations of American DEA agents in the country.
Despite the heated rhetoric, cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on the fentanyl issue has seen some progress. Mexico has recently passed legislation to tighten control over the import of chemicals used in fentanyl production and has joined a UN anti-trafficking program. However, the prospect of military action against Mexico, if pursued, could severely damage relations with America’s largest trading partner.
Read more at The Economist.