The interior secretary has rejected a claim by United States President Donald Trump that 90% of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Mexico.
Trump made the assertion Thursday during an address from the White House in which he declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
“An astonishing 90% of the heroin in America comes from south of the border where we will be building a wall, which will greatly help in this problem,” Trump said.
But in an appearance before the lower house of Congress yesterday, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong responded by saying “there’s no way of confirming [his] remark, in any case, but we believe that the amount that comes from our country is a lot less.”
He also reiterated Mexico’s position on the contentious border wall issue.
“That’s why the president of the republic has said no to the wall. Of course, they are within their rights to build it inside their [own] territory, but we’re not going to pay a cent for it,” he said.
The biggest opium poppy producer is Afghanistan, Osorio told lawmakers, a statement supported by a 2017 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report that said Mexico is the world’s third largest producer.
Osorio said that the Interior Secretariat would work to determine where any other heroin that is smuggled into the U.S. via Mexico comes from and where it enters national territory. He added that Mexico had made it clear it was “united as a country to confront this challenge.”
Military operations to eradicate poppy plantations domestically are ongoing.
Last year, Osorio said that waging a war on drugs was a mistake for which Mexico had to pay a high cost but violent crime has risen regardless.
The cabinet secretary also asserted that bilateral security was a key issue for both countries and one that goes beyond drug trafficking and migration to “many other matters.” He also stressed that for the first time the Mexican government had managed to get United States officials to accept that the security problem is a shared challenge.
One of Osorio’s fellow cabinet members also spoke out on the heroin issue this week by lamenting that Trump had once again blamed Mexico for what is a shared problem. Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray said casting blame rather than working together would not solve the issue.
“Once again, Mexico proposes taking an approach of shared responsibility with the United States” to confront in a systematic way the supply and demand, channels of distribution and financing, he said.
Disagreement on the quantity of heroin in the U.S. that is produced in Mexico is the latest in a list of grievances between the two neighbors that includes Trump’s border wall proposal and several points of difference in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Source: La Razón (sp)