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Opinion | Saying No to Trump’s Troops

In this distressing political landscape, how can Mexico and the United States work together to fight drug cartels?

Both countries must continue to share strategic and financial information on criminal groups, push for extradition (nothing scares Mexican drug dealers more than the thought of spending the rest of their lives in an American prison) and tone down the criticism on social media. President Trump tweeted that it was time “to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.” But posting on Twitter is no way to rule.

President López Obrador — who has high approval rates after one year in power — has been very cautious when it comes to his relationship with Mr. Trump. However, Mr. López Obrador’s image as a leader would be seriously damaged if he were to accept the presence of American troops on Mexican land. His better bet is to stand firm, resist American pressure and hope for change with the 2020 election.

Unfortunately, a new president won’t solve the terrible problem of drug-related violence in Mexico. Mr. López Obrador must humbly accept that his strategy — summed up as “hugs, not bullets” — isn’t working and that urgent action is required. Instead of stopping Central American refugees from entering across Mexico’s southern border, the National Guard should focus on bringing peace back to Mexico.

This year may turn out to be the most violent in Mexico’s modern history. More than 33,000 homicides were recorded in 2018, with one person killed every 15 minutes. This year, 28,000 people were killed between January and October. If Mr. López Obrador doesn’t make adjustments to his crime-fighting strategy soon, his six-year term could end up covered in blood.

The evident pride Mexicans feel in their president strongly opposing any foreign intervention may be undermined if Mr. López Obrador fails to crack down on drug traffickers. Saying no to President Trump’s troops is a good first step. Now Mexico’s president needs to take on the other challenges confronting his country.

Mr. Trump will soon realize that he can’t rule with tweets alone. His digital ruses have no effect on drug traffickers or drug-related violence in Mexico. Even someone like him, who seems to have no knowledge of history, can’t take the United States back to a time when it invaded other countries whenever it wanted. As the situation in Mexico clearly shows, not everything can be solved by force or by tweet.

Jorge Ramos (@jorgeramosnews) is an anchor for the Univision network, a contributing opinion writer and the author of, most recently, “Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era.”

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