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Texas Matters: Mexico demands buoys be removed

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Mexico's Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena Ibarra
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Mexico's Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena Ibarra

Mexico is taking a wait-and-see approach to dealing with the Operation Lone Star Buoys in the Rio Grande. Mexico’s top diplomat met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday to discuss the barrier.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena Ibarra joined Blinken for a joint press conference to discuss stopping fentanyl, growing U.S. Mexico trade and the controversial one thousand foot anti-migrant barrier in the middle of the Rio Grande.

Speaking through a translator Bárcena said much of the barrier is on the Mexican side of the river but because of the delicate nature of the situation Mexico is going to wait to see how the Biden Administration’s lawsuit to remove the buoys plays out.

“Our demand is that these buoys be removed. This is an action on the part of a state government that obviously is causing problems that, along the border are not just affecting that state. So I hope to receive good news over the course of this month,” she said.

Texas claims the barrier does not cross the line into Mexico’s waters. Last month The Justice Department sued Texas in federal court seeking an order to remove the state’s border barrier on the grounds that it violates a law that bars unauthorized construction in a navigable waterway.

But Governor Greg Abbott's attorneys argue that the floating barrier is not the type of structure that violates the act because it is placed in shallow areas that ultimately do not affect the navigability of the river. However, it should be noted that the state of Texas itself does operate and navigate boats in the Rio Grande near the buoys. And all along the 1900- mile Rio Grande thousands of boats are used every year.

When asked that since the buoys are in the Rio Grande illegally then why doesn’t the federal government just simply remove the buoys itself, Secretary Blinken replied that they would prefer to follow a legal process.

“We're a country and a government that proceeds by rule of law, and in this case, the Department of Justice has gone to court to sue seeking two things: one, the removal of the, the buoys and two, an injunction against any further construction of buoys. So we need to let this legal process play out. The Department of Justice can give you more detail on this, but that is the proper and appropriate way to proceed for a country that operates under the rule of law,” Blinken said.

But it was the topic of curbing the flow of Fentanyl from Mexico into the U.S. that dominated the press conference. Overdose deaths in the United States tied to the powerful synthetic opioid continues to be a serious problem and getting worse. Nearly 110,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses, mostly of fentanyl. Blinken told Barcena that fighting fentanyl abuse was "at the very top of the list of our priorities."

“For us and for Mexico. The challenge of dealing with drugs, and particularly now synthetic drugs, is at the top of our respective agendas here in the United States. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid is the number one killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49, that in and of itself puts it at the very top of the list of our priorities. It's taken a tremendous toll on a human basis. It's taken a tremendous toll on an economic basis more than $1.5 trillion in a, a single year is the cost of dealing with this epidemic. So it's a major priority for President Biden, a major priority for me,” Blinken said.

Barcena said Mexico will be digitally tracking imports, mostly from China, of the pre-cursor ingredients used to make and distribute fentanyl.

“So we're fully aware of how this is a top priority for the United States and Canada because we're losing our young people. This is a matter of public health without a doubt. This is an issue for which there needs to be global collaboration, not just a collaboration between our countries,” Barcena said.

Blinken said that fentanyl is no longer a U.S. problem. The cartels have saturated the market in the United States and are now pushing it into other parts of the world, making it a developing global problem.

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