Mexico is in danger of becoming the Afghanistan of the Americas with criminal gangs increasingly controlling large territories, including municipalities, by dominating or neutralizing their elected officials and law enforcement. They do this with massive wealth from drug trade and extortion of legitimate businesses, and horrific, relentless violence. They have mostly had impunity due to the passivity of federal government.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), in his third year of a six-year term, has formally adopted the approach of not using the power of federal law enforcement against Mexico’s criminal gangs, called as “hugs not bullets” – the view that cash subsidies and state-induced jobs would best address the problem.
In a new Gallup poll, six in ten Mexican citizens (56%) said they were afraid to walk alone at night (Gallup, 6-8-21). In addition to concerns about the level of crime, Mexicans are also threatened by the government’s inadequate response to COVID-19. The country has the fourth highest number of deaths in the world – U.S. (600,000), Brazil (448,000), India (370,000) and Mexico (230,000).
But AMLO and his party remain popular. In the recent legislative elections, his party, MORENA, lost seats, but maintained their majority (more than 250 seats, but declined by approximately 30) in the lower House due to grassroots support for his populist, anti-elite appeal. However, his loss showed dissatisfaction from many better educated urbanites in Mexico City and other municipalities.
Will AMLO adjust his strategy to the decline in support or become more authoritarian, a tendency many critics believe has accompanied his career?
|Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Vice |
President Kamala Harris meet at Palacio Nacional in Mexico
City, June 8, 2021 | Hector Vivas/Getty Images