Univision reporter Jorge Ramos. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

Univision reporter Jorge Ramos — who two years ago was temporarily blackballed from attending Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) daily press conferences for daring to cite the government’s own figures on rising crimes during one of those pressers — once again challenged the president on Monday, July 5, on the failure of his “hugs, not bullets” policy to curb the organized crime and rising violence.

And, as usual, AMLO replied that he had “other data” from that of his own government and — nearly three years into his six-year term — blamed the problem on previous administrations.

Pressed by Ramos to explain how the incidence of murders in Mexico continues to rise, AMLO admitted that violence is not an easy problem to solve.

“Of course it is not an easy matter. I already explained that it was a rotten fruit that we inherited (from previous administrations),” AMLO said.

“But we have made strides. Now, I do have other data.”

The president went on to say that his administration has had “difficulty reducing the crime of homicide as we would like.”

Ramos pointed out that while AMLO in his 12th trimestral State of the Nation Address four days earlier had insisted that his government has crime and violence “well in hand,” the fact of the matter is that Mexico is registering roughly 100 murders a day.

“How can you call this success?” Ramos asked rhetorically.

“It is not that I am blaming the previous presidents without cause,” AMLO said.

“But as you well know, and as is known in the public domain, (violent crime in Mexico) goes back a long ways.”

But Ramos held his ground, pointing out that violence crime has only risen since the president took office in December 2018, when there were 2,892 reported homicides, compared to 2,863 in May of this year.

“There has been no change, no drop in the numbers,” Ramos said.

“Mexico is being victimized by mass murders and massacres. And there are deaths, 3,000 a month.”

And again, the AMLO reputed the facts that Ramos quoted from the government’s own Secretariat of Public Security (SSP).

“Yes, but it’s not the same, not the same. There are no longer massacres in the country,” AMLO maintained, despite the fact that in June alone, there were at least 10 mass executions and at least 40 massacres in the first half of 2021, according to the SSP.

And regarding the violent drug wars currently playing out in the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Morelos, the president brushed off Ramos’ quarries, saying only that “these are clashes between gangs, but it is not the state, which was previously the main violator of human rights.”

Ramos persisted, asking López Obrador that, as president, was he not responsible for what happens in Mexico.

“Yes, yes,” AMLO responded. “And I am working on it every day.”

“But there have been no results,” Ramos said.

AMLO’s response was classically vague: “I respect your point of view, but I don’t share it.”

“These are figures from your own government,” Ramos said.

“I got them from your government.”

Again, AMLO evaded a straight answer, saying only “I think they gave you the wrong figures; I have other data.”

Seeing that AMLO was not going to respond to his questions on the spiking violence in Mexico, Ramos then moved on to the subject of the more than 233,000 deaths from covid-19 under López Obrador’s watch.

AMLO said that while he accepts the responsibility for the high covid mortality figures in Mexico, he had a “clear conscience,” since his government has handled the pandemic “better than other countries” even though, as Ramos pointed out, Mexico currently ranks fourth worldwide in per capita deaths from the disease.

AMLO then moved on to other reporters questions.

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