Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo:


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) emphatically denied having threatened the United States with expelling its Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents from the country over the controversial arrest of former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles last month.

Speaking at his daily early morning press conference at the National Palace on Thursday, Nov. 19, AMLO said that his administration had at no time threatened to expel the 30-odd DEA agents currently operating in Mexico in order to persuade U.S. Attorney General William Barr to drop drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges Cienfuegos so he could be tried in Mexico.

Allegations of those threats were published in several U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post, immediately following the announcement of Barr’s decision on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Cienfuegos arrived in Mexico late Wednesday, Nov. 18, and was presented before Mexican authorities on similar charges as those dropped in the United States.

AMLO said that the decision by Washington to release Cienfuegos was the result of diplomatic negotiations, not threats.

“We never threatened anyone,” he said. “The only thing we did was to express our inconformity with Cienfuegos’ arrest and they (the United States government) understood us very well.”

AMLO went on to say that his government had no intention of breaking binational cooperation in the fight against organized crime, only to ensure that there is “mutual respect and compliance with bilateral agreements.”

Cienfuegos, a former Army and Air Force general who served as head of national defense under Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, was detained in Los Angeles in mid-October, but the Mexican government was not given a heads-up warning of the arrest, a situation which led to diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

…Nov. 20, 2020

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