Mexico President Asks Lawmakers to Let U.S. Military Trainers into Mexico

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 17, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

Mexico’s president has requested permission from the Mexican Senate to allow a group of U.S. military personnel to enter the country to train Mexican special forces in early 2024, according to an announcement in the Senate’s official gazette.

The presence of U.S. military personnel on Mexican soil has long been a sensitive issue in Mexico, which lost much of its territory to the United States due to war in the 1840s and also endured U.S. military incursions in the early 20th century.

The announcement published Tuesday said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sought permission for 11 U.S. military personnel to take part in a program called “Strengthening the Capacities of the Special Forces of the Defense Ministry.”

Lopez Obrador has vigorously defended the principle of Mexican sovereignty, passing measures to restrict the ability of U.S. counter-narcotics agents to operate in Mexico.

The training program is due to take place at a military training center to the southeast of Mexico City between Jan. 23 and March 21, 2024, according to the Senate notice, which also included a copy of the letter sent by the leftist president.

Lopez Obrador’s letter was dated Nov. 22, less than a week after he met with U.S. President Joe Biden at an Asia-Pacific summit in San Francisco, California.

The 11 personnel named in the letter belong to the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group, an elite unit that has operated in Iraq and Afghanistan and often trains foreign troops.

The U.S. troops are expected to arrive in Mexico with their own weapons, ammunition and equipment, the Senate letter added.

During their stay, the U.S. soldiers will be assigned to Mexico’s Defense Ministry (SEDENA), which has historically had close ties to the United States military.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has been critical of U.S. anti-narcotics officials operating on Mexican territory, accusing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents of trampling on Mexican sovereignty.

– Writing by Dave Graham, Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic Editing by Franklin Paul and Deepa Babington, Reuters.

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