Mexican airspace standoff: AMLO denies Pentagon access to track mysterious alledged spy balloon

AMLO asserts Mexico's sovereignty, denies US access to track unknown object; writes letter to Biden addressing funding of opposition groups.

Emphasizing that with the United States, there is cooperation and not submission, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador informed that three days ago, the Pentagon was denied permission to enter Mexican territory to verify that it was not a (spy) balloon that was flying overhead.

He said he instructed the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) to carry out an operation with airplanes and drones, but they found nothing. The balloon would have entered Mexico three days ago through Mazatlan, Sinaloa, and would have left through Tamaulipas.

“They spoke from the Pentagon to the Defense to ask permission because they wanted to fly over the airspace with airplanes and drones, of high technological, military level, because they had detected a balloon coming from Hawaii and coming through Mexico, and they assured that it was a balloon from Asia (spy), I don’t want to get into these matters.

“So the answer was no, we don’t allow those aircraft and those drones to enter our airspace. Let’s agree. Send us the information, and we have equipment for the follow-up,” he expounded.

The president said he was informed “that it was a balloon at an altitude of 35 thousand feet, at 30, well, 5 thousand feet above the commercial aviation traffic. That it was going to enter the day before yesterday at 3 a.m. through Manzanillo and that it was going to leave through Tamaulipas. It happened, we did not detect anything, nor did they inform us that they had seen it. A consultation was made to see if they had more elements, and no, and now this came out. It (the balloon) has passed, or it has not been found”, he indicated.

“What I am going for is cooperation yes, subordination or submission no”.

He instructed the Sedena to carry out an operation with airplanes and drones, but they found nothing. Photo: Special
He instructed the Sedena to operate with airplanes and drones, but they found nothing. Photo: Special

AMLO sends letter to Biden

The president also revealed this Wednesday at the National Palace that yesterday he sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, asking him to intervene to stop his government from continuing to finance civil society organizations in Mexico that are “openly opposed” to the government of the Fourth Transformation.

López Obrador sent the letter to respond to the U.S. government’s decision to increase funding to organizations such as México Evalúa. The Mexican president accuses this is an interventionist act.

“I wish to express briefly that for some time now, the United States government, especially the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been financing organizations openly opposed to the legal and legitimate government that I represent, which is an interventionist act, contrary to international law and the respect that should prevail between free and sovereign states. Moreover, a few days ago, it was announced that the said agency would increase the budget granted to organizations opposed to our government, as published on the official website of the State Department. I am sure you are unaware of this matter, so I respectfully ask for your valuable intervention. Your friend,” he wrote in the letter.

The President publicly apologized to the White House National Security Advisor, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, whom he received last Tuesday at the National Palace because in their conversation, he informed her of the letter to Biden but assured her that he would no longer send it to her.

“But I kept thinking, afterward, and I did send it, and I take this opportunity to apologize to Dr. Elizabeth, who is also very kind, an extraordinary diplomat, who seeks that together we face problems such as the migratory phenomenon, such as drug trafficking, especially fentanyl; she is in charge of this, she does it very well in connection with Rosa Icela Rodríguez, on our behalf.

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He said he changed his mind because “the truth is that I feel it is very arrogant, very offensive, and I cannot remain silent.”

AMLO showed the letter he sent to his counterpart in the US. Photo: Special
AMLO showed the letter he sent to his counterpart in the US. Photo: Special

Today is when we are feeling more US interference: AMLO.

The Chief Executive pointed to the United States and accused that today is “when we are feeling more interference” from that country in Mexico, even though relations with President Joe Biden “are good and respectful.” He took advantage of the National Palace pulpit to ask that the nation’s government review its foreign policy because he described their interference as offensive, arrogant, and acting as if they were the owners of the American continent.

López Obrador has accused the DEA, the Pentagon, and the CIA several times of spying on the Mexican government and leaking information to the press to weaken it. This Wednesday, he linked these agencies to the hacking of the Sedena by Guacamayas.

“Hacking the Ministry of Defense is not something they do here. Besides, these hacks have been carried out in other Latin American countries, and the Americans should, I say this with great respect because they are independent. Still, as a recommendation, the U.S. Congress should open an investigation into this because this espionage does not help to have respectful relations,” he said.

He added that the interference practices of the US government had prevailed regardless of who is in the presidency, the Democratic or Republican party. He regretted that the situation remains the same, even with President Biden in the government.

“Now it turns out that this is when we are feeling more interference, not from the president, it is that the US government has to be understood, in recent times, it is very horizontal and of great relative autonomy in its institutions, it has many agencies of great power and many of these agencies, I say this respectfully, do not act with rectitude and do not respect, they act with great arrogance, nothing to do, I emphasize, with the attitude of the president,” he pointed out.

In that sense, he recognized Cuba as the only country that has resisted U.S. interference in its history.

“We may or may not agree, but it is the only country that has remained for many years with an independent policy suffering an inhuman, infamous blockade, which violates international law because there may be political and ideological differences, but the peoples do not have to suffer those policies of the governments, and it is clear that human rights are violated,” he said.

Spy balloons and the US

According to reports published last month, the Chinese spy balloon intercepted in February gathered intelligence from several sensitive American military sites before being shot down by the US in the same month it’s been spotted. Although the Biden administration attempted to limit the balloon’s data collection, it made multiple passes over some sites, collecting electronic signals in real-time.

However, US officials maintain that any intelligence collected had “limited additive value” for China. The Chinese government claims the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that accidentally strayed off course. The US shot the balloon off the coast of South Carolina on February 4, and officials are still analyzing the retrieved debris.