Mexico’s president says cartel attacks on civilians part of ‘political conspiracy’ against him


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that his opponents are trying to exaggerate the severity of a wave of shootings and arson last week by drug cartels in four states to hurt his administration.

Acts of aggression by drug cartel gunmen were carried out last week against civilians ranging from road blockades and the burning of vehicles and local businesses to the killing of bystanders.

On Aug. 8, Jalisco and Guanajuato states reported attacks in retaliation for the apprehension by Mexico’s military of two prominent leaders of criminal organizations.

Cartel gunmen torched several convenience stores and pharmacies. In some cities, the perpetrators erected blockades to deter the National Guard and military forces from entering the region.

The multinational beverage and retail company FEMSA reported that 25 of its convenience store franchises were set on fire during the attacks.

In addition, a brawl last Thursday between rival gangs at a prison in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez spread to the streets and triggered a wave of attacks against the civilian population, leaving 11 dead and a dozen injured.

In the state of Baja California, authorities said vehicles had been torched by organized crime elements Saturday. According to witnesses, gunmen forced civilians to get out of their cars and set the vehicles on fire.

While Lopez Obrador acknowledged that the murders of innocent civilians in Ciudad Juarez were “very unfortunate and had not happened before,” he accused his political adversaries and media outlets of distorting the violence plaguing the country to discredit his administration.

In response, he said he will start broadcasting his morning press conferences on weekends.

“If we give time to our adversaries, the conservatives, who want us to do badly and are very desperate, nervous, making propaganda, they will use the weekends to manipulate and distort things,” he added.

In addition, during his press conference, Lopez Obrador said that last weekend was one in which the fewest homicides were registered in the country.

“Because of the propaganda, the perception is different, and it also has to do with the interests of those who carried out these actions,” he added.

Lopez Obrador’s administration has been heavily criticized for its public security strategy, which some critics have called out for its alleged military tendencies. ​​​​​​​

Last week, Lopez Obrador said he would issue a decree that would give complete control of the National Guard to Mexico’s military. The announcement was slammed by human rights activists and his opponents, who argued that the violence in the country cannot be solved with an increased army presence.

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