By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Whenever he is faced with a failure of his administration, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has a habit of passing the buck.
The economy is contracting? It’s the fault of previous neoliberal administration. Pemex’s production is down? Blame it on the neoliberals. Crime rates are up? Again, we are just seeing the residual effects of a previous government’s inept attempts to curb violence.
So it should have come as no surprise when, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, the day after at least nine members of a binational Mormon family of unarmed women and children were brutally gunned down by cartel gunmen in the northern state of Chihuahua, AMLO specifically shoved the blame onto the “ineffective” practice of using violence to fight violence (known in some circles as policing) of former President Felipe Calderón (his political archenemy) for the gruesome murders. (Never mind that Calderón left office seven years ago, he is a convenient scapegoat.)
“No, no, no,” the president insisted in his daily morning media show, “we will not revert to using violence against violence.” (Apparently, someone forgot to send him the memo that “abrazos, no balazos,” or “hugs, not bullets,” isn’t cutting it in the fight against the drug cartels, which, by some conservative estimates, now control about a third of the country.)
The tragic events in Culiacán on Oct. 18 — during which Mexican authorities first captured and then released alleged drug kingpin Ovidio Guzmán López (the son and one of the three heirs apparent of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán), leaving a tally of eight dead in the wake — are solid evidence that AMLO and his “hugging” law enforcers can’t cut the mustard when it comes to confronting the cartels.
Mexico’s newly formed National Guard, with the help of the Army, Federal Police and local authorities, were outgunned and outnumbered against the Sinaloa Drug Cartel’s impromptu defense of its leader (and one has to wonder if there was not an exchange of money involved in the release of Guzmán López, but then, that’s a whole other column).
Asked during his daily press conference on Tuesday if he would accept the help of the United States in trying to corral in the cartels — U.S. President Donald Trump immediately offered assistance, and, considering that the murdered Mormon family members were all U.S.-Mexican duel citizens, is rightly concerned about the incident — AMLO said that he thought not, adding that “Mexico can handle the problem on its own.”
But, then again, AMLO’s answer to handling problems in his government is to pass the buck, and that is an art he has certainly mastered.
But since López Obrador is now nearly a full year into his six-year term, we do have to wonder: When, oh, when will he start taking responsibility for his own failures?