AMLO, Trump and Fast and Furious

On Monday, April 11, Mexican foreign relations minister, Marcelo Ebrard posted on Twitter a clarification on the diplomatic note the Mexican government had sent to the U.S. Embassy recently. The diplomatic note asks the U.S. government for information and documents pertaining to the ATF Fast and Furious operation that allowed U.S. guns to enter México so that they could be traced back to the straw purchasers.

The ATF gunwalking scandal ran between 2006 and 2011 out of Arizona. It became controversial when several guns, under the program, were found to have been used in homicides both of U.S. and Mexican citizens on both sides of the border. The murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry made the scandal an American one and not just a problem for México. Mexican officials have said that about 150 Mexican citizens were killed or maimed by the weapons allowed across the border.

Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012 by a Republican-controlled House for withholding documents that Barack Obama had declared as executive privileged documents. The House lawsuit challenging the withholding of the documents is pending before a federal court today.

In 2016, during the presidential election, Trump promised that he would get to the bottom of Fast and Furious. In a September 6, 2011 Twitter post, Trump posted; “Fast and Furious gun running goes all the way to the White House. We need answers now!” The Mexican government, as well, has been trying to get clarity on what transpired.

Since then, Donald Trump has said little about the ATF Fast and Furious operation.

Now the Mexican government is raising the issue again.

In the Twitter video Ebrard said that the ATF operation failed because “arms trafficking has continued to increase” on his Twitter video.

Ebrard added that “to date, the communications and planning of the operation between the U.S. and Mexican governments” have not been publicly clarified.

According to Ebrard’s comments, the previous Mexican administration has stated that they “were not aware of the operation”.

“However, through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, the government of the U.S. published a declaration from the previous U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, assuring everyone that the Mexican government was aware of the operation.”

Marcelo Ebrard added: “The identification of each weapon intercepted in Mexico can only be accomplished with the participation of the highest authorities in Mexico.”

Ebrard continued, if the government of Enrique Peña Nieto knew about and authorized the Fast and Furious operation than there are “serious violations of the Mexican Constitution and corresponding laws”.

However, Ebrard added, if it is true that the previous administration was not aware of the operation, much less authorized it, then the United States government “violated the sovereignty of Mexico”.

Marcelo Ebrard closed his comments with, “the government of Mexico therefore asks for all the information and documentation that is available, according to the cooperation and mutual respect that exists between both countries.”

What is behind the sudden need to reopen the Fast and Furious operation?

This request clearly comes from Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) directly. The political rhetoric is that the Trump administration has been “respectful” of Mexico. That AMLO wants to hold people accountable. But in global politics there is much more than meets the eye.

AMLO, like Donald Trump, is under intense pressure for how they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic in their respective countries.

Like Trump, AMLO is looking for a distraction.

For AMLO, this controversy does not alienate Donald Trump. Instead, anything that discredits Barack Obama and Eric Holder is good for Trump’s reelection campaign. It also helps distract from the various Trump controversies.

For AMLO, proving that the government of Enrique Peña Nieto was aware and possibly approved the ATF Fast and Furious operation gives AMLO the ammunition he needs to discredit the PRI, and by extension, the PAN government as Mexican elections begin to get underway.

For those interested in the facts, the opportunity to get more information on Fast and Furious serves the quest for details about the operation. However, the reality is that the latest move on Fast and Furious is not about the truth, but rather about political distraction and the ability to blame previous administrations for today’s problems.

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