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Mexican president: lack of hugs caused US fentanyl crisis


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Friday that American families were responsible for the fentanyl overdose crisis because they don’t hug their kids enough.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s comment caps a week of provocative statements from him about the crisis caused by the fentanyl, a synthetic opioid trafficked by Mexican cartels and responsible for about 70,000 overdose deaths each year in the United States.

López Obrador said family values ​​in the United States have broken down because parents don’t let their children live at home long enough. He has also denied that Mexico produces fentanyl.

On Friday, the Mexican president told a morning news briefing that the problem was caused by “a lack of hugs, of hugs.”

“There is a lot of family disintegration, there is a lot of individualism, there is a lack of love, brotherhood, hugs and embraces,” López Obrador said of the US crisis. “That’s why they (U.S. officials) should allocate money to address the root causes.”

López Obrador has said repeatedly that Mexico’s close-knit family values ​​saved it from the wave of fentanyl overdoses. Experts say Mexican cartels are now making so much money from the US market that they see no need to sell fentanyl in their home market.

Cartels often sell methamphetamine in Mexico, where the drug is more popular because it supposedly helps people work harder.

López Obrador has been stung by calls in the United States to designate Mexican drug gangs as terrorist organizations. Some Republicans have said they prefer to use the US military to crack down on the Mexican cartels.

On Wednesday, López Obrador called the U.S. anti-drug policy a failure and proposed a ban in both countries on the use of fentanyl in medicines — even though little of the drug enters the illicit market from hospitals.

US authorities estimate that most illegal fentanyl is produced in clandestine Mexican laboratories using Chinese precursor chemicals. Relatively little of the illicit market has come from the diversion of medicinal fentanyl used as anesthesia in surgeries and other procedures.

There are only scattered and isolated reports of glass vials of medicinal fentanyl entering the illicit market. Most illegal fentanyl is squeezed by Mexican cartels into counterfeit pills that are made to look like other drugs like Xanax, oxycodone or Percocet.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.