Massacre In Sonora Questions López Obrador's Strategy Against Drug Trafficking

During his election campaign, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, promised “hugs, not bullets” as the way to fight drug trafficking. The murder of three American women and six of their children, some of them babies, in the Mexican state of Sonora on Monday, puts that policy in question and voices are already emerging from those who are requesting a change in the way to deal with the conflict.

What happened in Sonora, moreover, breaks with the old belief that drug cartels would avoid killing foreigners, women or children. However, this was not the first or the only fact of this kind.

In August, attackers entered a house in Ciudad Juárez, the territory where the Juárez cartel operates, and fired 123 bullets that killed 14, 13, and 4-year-old girls, in addition to killing an adult who appeared to be the true target of the attack.

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Days before the Sonora massacre, police had arrested a man in the state capital, Hermosillo, as a suspect in kidnapping a New York businessman and requesting a ransom of $ 500,000.

Although there was a time when the violence of the war on drug trafficking shocked Americans between 2006 and 2012, recent events show a worsening in the consequences of the struggle facing Mexico.

After the massacre in Sonora, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, offered help to erase the cartels "from the face of the Earth." Although his Mexican pair rejected the offer, there are those, both inside and outside the country, question whether it is time to change the policy of “hugs, not bullets”, which avoids confrontation and tries to solve the underlying social problems instead .

The facts also show that breaking the old conventions of not killing children and families or attacking foreigners does not seem to worry criminals given the weak application of the law in Mexico.

"From the perspective of criminals, killing one is the same as killing nine," said security analyst Alejandro Hope. "They do not perceive that there is an additional risk of committing such acts of extreme brutality."

“Same case with children, they don't perceive that there is a line in the sand. And they have not perceived it because the Government has not painted it, ”he added.

AMLO does not see war as an option

"We declared war and it didn't work," López Obrador said, referring to the way his predecessors faced the conflict. "That is not an option," he added regarding the militarized offensive against cartels that began in 2006 with former president Felipe Calderón, and continued with his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

López Obrador, from center-left, preferred a different approach. After assuming the presidency, he created the National Guard and said that the way to fight crime in the country was with work programs and opportunities for young people.

Not even the chaos unleashed by an armed group in Ciudad Juárez that left 10 dead and six wounded at midnight on Tuesday, or the attacks in Culiacán that prevented the arrest of Olivio Guzmán Loera, son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, push back AMLO in its policy of avoiding tougher confrontations against drug trafficking.

Analysts believe that the cartels then received the message that they can face the authorities. After the Culiacán incident, an officer in the border town of Nogales, in Sonora, reported that police stopped a car full of armed suspects who told agents to back off or do "what they did in Culiacán."

"Sooner or later there will be an adjustment in the government's security strategy," says former drug prosecutor Samuel Gonzalez. "It is not that the government has declared war on organized crime, but that drug traffickers have declared war on the State," he added.

"And given this situation, the government has to respond proportionally in the use of force and in legitimate defense," González said.

Although López Obrador stands firm backed by a high approval rating in the polls, violent attacks continue to occur.

In April, armed men stormed a party in the coastal city of Minatitlan, in the state of Veracruz, and killed 14 people, including two Filipinos. In August, gunmen from the Jalisco cartel entered a nightclub in the nearby city of Coatzacoalcos, blocked the premises and caused a fire that killed 28 people who were trapped inside, including 10 women. Earlier that month, the same band hung 19 bodies on a bridge or scattered their bodies nearby in Uruapan, a city in the west of the country.

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The American family shot in Mexico was traveling in the same type of car as the drug traffickers. He received more than 200 bullets

Mormon families killed in Mexico challenged the narco for years. They were burned alive

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