MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s president said Friday that American families are to blame for the fentanyl overdose crisis because they don’t hug their children enough.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s comments cap a week of provocative statements from him about the crisis caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid traded by Mexican cartels that has been blamed for about 70,000 overdose deaths a year in the United States.
López Obrador said family values have broken down in the United States because parents don’t let their children stay 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 disintegration of families, there is a lot of individualism, there is a lack of love, of brotherhood, of hugs and embraces,” López Obrador said of the crisis in the United States. “That’s why they (US officials) should dedicate funds to address the causes.”
López Obrador has repeatedly said that Mexico’s close-knit family values are what have saved it from the wave of fentanyl overdoses. Experts say Mexican cartels are making so much money now in the U.S. 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 is said to help 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 anti-drug policies in the United States a failure and proposed a ban in both countries on the use of fentanyl in medicine – even though little of the drug passes from hospitals to the illegal market.
US authorities estimate that most illegal fentanyl is produced in clandestine Mexican laboratories using Chinese precursor chemicals. Relatively little of the illegal market comes from the diversion of medical fentanyl used as anesthesia in surgeries and other procedures.
There have been only scattered and isolated reports of glass bottles of medicinal fentanyl reaching the illicit market. The most illegal fentanyl is pushed by Mexican cartels into counterfeit pills made to look like other drugs like Xanax, oxycodone or Percocet.