MEXICO CITY – While successfully campaigning around the country last year, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led powerful slogans for resolving the country's security situations. "Rubber, not bullets," he repeated over and over. "You can't fight fire with fire!" He will say. "Scholarship students, not sicarios!" Eleven months into his rule, however, the murder rate in Mexico continues to struggle to new record levels. The three-car robbery of women and children in the northern state of Sonora marked the latest outrage.
In the wake of the massacre in Sonora – claiming the lives of three women and six children, all US citizens – López Obrador has doubled down on his discourse of changing security strategies, while firing firearms problems with Mexico over its unmanaged violence.
"These are issues that come from a distance," he said at a meeting on Wednesday, "exacerbated by a strategy of seeking to resolve things only by using force."
An austere figure with slow speech, working 16 hours a day and touring the country tirelessly – taking commercial flights – the man commonly called "The AMLO" proved popular. His approval rating rating is around 65 percent. He speaks of the inheritance of "a country on fire" and often reminds Mexicans of his unpopular past, comparing them to organized crime – "the mafia in power," he calls them first – and speaking of his political opponents as doing more harm to Mexico than drug cartels.
It was found by a receptive audience in Mexico, where inequality rife and fatigue in corruption and the extremes of the elite have contributed to the success of the AMLO election. In interviews in the western state of Jalisco, organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia said he found people in crime-ridden areas important to admit that "We know the Jalisco cartel is destructive, but it's not do more harm than corrupt politicians and businessmen who are with the government. ”
Large-scale national uprisings seem to exist around Mexican society and see a state of inadequacy – including major communities that community in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains near the United States border with Arizona and New Mexico founded by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The inhabitants of the main community of Colonia LeBarón donated a building and land for a Federal Police base – and helped pay officials' salaries – following an anti-crime a ctivist, Benjamín LeBarón, was killed in 2009, said Brent LeBarón, a relative of the victim.
They also learned to live with those who fought on drug cartels: identifying themselves with gunmen at checkpoints, stay on the lonely roads at night and keep the shots quiet.
"Obviously, they are fighting on turfs and accessing roads and taking their medicines to the border," LeBarón told USA TODAY.
But LeBarón cited another factor that directing violence: an approach to killing or retrieving cartel Kingpins.
"When a person's head is caught or killed or someone else replaces him," he said, "that is when they see a weak point. and try to take the turf. ”
Such an internal seizure erupted in the western state of Sinaloa following the 2016 arrest of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín" El Chapo "Guzmán, now sitting in a US cell.
But Mexico's weakness and the apparent lack of a security strategy were revealed last month. The soldiers arrested El Chapo's son Ovidio Guzmán Lopez, but were forced to release him after police blocked roads in the city of Culiacán with burning vehicles and unleashed a riot. Critics accused AMLO of allowing criminals to cow the state, but insisted he avoid blood.
"There is no war against narcotics traffickers," he told reporters October 30. "We will not expose civilian lives, using the euphemism of collateral damage. It's over."
Violence of Mexico is running out of US investigation. And AMLO's "hugs, not bullets" discourse has also been undermined, as U.S. politicians have been writing about military intervention.
"Hugs, not bullet. That might work on kids' fairy tales, "Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Told Fox News this week," but in the real world, … the only thing that can combat bullets is more and more. bigger bullets. If the Mexican government cannot protect American citizens in Mexico, the United States may need to take matters into our own hands. "
President Trump – thanking AMLO as," The great new President of Mexico "- also weighed in., Tweeting," It's time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to conduct a WAR on drug cartels and wipe them out over the world. "
Further: Trump condemned Mexico's family murder, offers assistance to fight drug cartels
Further US intervention is a nonstarter for many in Mexico. AMLO also removed the notion on Thursday, saying Mexico was acting itself.
Analysts say US government is working in Mexico par for a better part of a decade, but crime and murder continue as security strategies fall and Mexico fails to strengthen institutions or enforce the rule of law.
"These perceptions of increasing military presence in Mexico or betting on military solutions stem from a complete misstep in recent history in the sense that it has increased violence, it has burdened things rather than better, "said Falko Ernst, senior The Mexican analyst for the International Crisis Group.
The United States was involved "both in designing and executing Mexico's security strategy in previous administrations," including "capture and execution of operations, extraditions – including & # 39; El Chapo & # 39;" – and a partnership between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Mexican Navy, Ernst said.
But "they failed to establish institutions at the same time weakening criminal organizations and did not address the most basic question, namely corruption and inclusion."
Further: Voting attacks during an attempt to arrest El Chapo's son led to a massive fire, riot
For all this talk f changing course about on security and moral renewal – AMLO often promotes Christianity and cites Scripture, practices that were once ridiculed in Mexican politics – the president often turned to the military.
He created a new militarized police force known as the National Guard, which is mostly a staff of soldiers and supplements of the Federal Police. The first expansion of the guard, however, was to stop migrants in Central America trying to move the country. Nearly 4,000 members of the guard were deployed to Sonora and Chihuahua – where major pundits attacked Monday – compared to more than 6,800 members stationed in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, displaced by migrants.
The current approach is not enough to dismantle criminal structures or address issues such as cartels entering politics, analysts said. , "Says Buscaglia, senior law and economics research scholar at Columbia Law School and an advisor to governments in the fight against organized crime.
" Mexico has never had an anti-mafia strategy. Mexico has always talked about a public security strategy, which it does not have. ”