Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos. Photo: screengrab from gob.mx/presidencia

By MARK LORENZANA

Veteran Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos gave Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) all he could handle on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 22, during AMLO’s daily press conference.

Ramos, known for his no-nonsense approach when dealing with López Obrador during his news conferences, told the Mexican president point-blank that his administration can now lay claim to the infamous record of having the most homicides.

“I have to start with the bad news,” Ramos said, addressing López Obrador. “Your government is already the most violent in modern Mexican history.”

Ramos then proceeded to produce a cardboard sign that he brought with him, detailing the number of murders committed for each president’s term: former Mexican Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto with 121,683 and 124,478, respectively, and AMLO with a total of 126,206. The figures for Calderón and Peña Nieto, however, were for their respective six-year terms. López Obrador has still more than two years left in his term.

When López Obrador denied the claims, Ramos said that he pulled the data from the Mexican government’s own website. The journalist also doubled down on his criticisms of AMLO’s handling of the country’s growing violence and insecurity.

“You came to power, and now there have been more Mexicans murdered, more than under Peña Nieto, more than under Calderón. This is what it means, Mr. President. Despite the figures you have given us, your security strategy has not worked,” Ramos said. “Many have been put off by the idea of ‘hugs not bullets.’ In the end, despite your militarization of the country, the criminals have fired more bullets. The problem is that if this problem isn’t solved, it will get much worse. In the end, when you step down, there will be more than 191,000 deaths.”

“I do not agree with you, I do not agree, and I think you are wrong,” López Obrador said, to which Ramos replied in turn that, again, the figures were pulled from government data.

AMLO then reiterated his controversial “hugs not bullets” strategy, and said that what kept him “calm and optimistic” was that his strategy was “giving results” — despite the government data that Ramos produced to the contrary.

When Ramos replied that López Obrador should not be calm “because it’s a national emergency,” AMLO said that he wasn’t lying, that his conscience would not allow him to be dishonest, but that his adversaries “want people dead.”

“My adversaries wanted me to fail at the beginning of this pandemic; they want my security strategy to fail. They want things to go wrong in this country, so that they can blame it on this government,” López Obrador said. “Those who committed and continue to commit white-collar crime continue to do a lot of damage. They are the ones looting, robbing the country. They are the ones who want things to go wrong for us.”

López Obrador then proceeded to blame the media, accusing journalists of “being silent as mummies” during the previous administrations. Ramos countered this, and said that he — along with other journalists — regularly criticized Peña Nieto throughout his administration.

In addition to verbally attacking journalists and legitimate media outlets during his daily morning press conferences, AMLO has a penchant for blaming previous administrations — chief among them Calderón’s — conveniently forgetting that his controversial “hugs not bullets” approach has led to the explosion of homicides, femicides, journalist killings, forced disappearances and cartel violence in the country.

There is little love lost between López Obrador and the seasoned journalist Ramos, who is regarded as the best-known Spanish-language news anchor in the United States.

In July of last year, during the height of the covid-19 pandemic, Ramos confronted López Obrador — again, due to the spiking violence in Mexico, in addition to the soaring virus-related deaths in the country. When he couldn’t give Ramos a satisfactory answer, he dismissed the Univision anchor and went on to answer other reporters’ questions.

Likewise, in 2019, Ramos was temporarily banned from attending AMLO’s press conferences for citing the government’s own figures on rising crimes in one of those pressers.

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