As cartels continue to fight each other for territorial control in various parts of the country, the current president and a former one engaged in a war of words over Mexico’s latest episode of brutal violence.
Former president Felipe Calderón took to Twitter on Monday to comment on the massacre Sunday in San José de Gracia, Michoacán, in which as many as 17 people were killed in a firing squad-style execution.
The cold-blooded murders “should generate a national reaction” starting with the government’s punishment of the perpetrators, he wrote.
“Today the national emergency is to recover the rule of law,” Calderón added. In another tweet, the ex-National Action Party president said it was “incredible” that the authenticity of video footage of the massacre had been called into doubt, a reference to López Obrador’s suggestion that it could have been manipulated.
At his regular news conference on Tuesday, the president described Calderón as a “cinicazo,” or extreme cynic, for having the gumption to offer an opinion on Sunday’s callous carnage.
He charged that new criminal groups emerged as a result of the actions of the government led by the former president, who defeated López Obrador at the 2006 presidential election.
They arose from “the government that prevailed through fraud,” López Obrador said, repeating his claim that he was robbed of victory at the 2006 election.
Criminal organizations that formed during the 2006-12 federal government – including the über-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel – did so due to Calderón’s militarized war on cartels and his failure to address the root causes of violence, the president claimed.
He also reaffirmed his commitment to continuing his so-called “abrazos, no balazos” (hugs, not bullets) security strategy, which seeks to avoid direct confrontation with cartels where possible and steer young people away from a life of crime by offering them education and employment opportunities.
“… What we’re looking for is for young people not to be roped into [joining criminal organizations],” López Obrador said.
“… Young people weren’t attended to but now we’re addressing the causes of violence, but it takes time,” he said before renewing his criticism of the Calderón government for ordering people wounded in confrontations with the military to be “finished off.”
AMLO, as the president is best known, also castigated the ex-president for not explaining his decision to appoint Genaro García Luna – currently imprisoned in the United States as he awaits trial on bribery and drug trafficking charges – as his security minister.
“We’re still waiting for him to explain why he had García Luna as the right-hand man in his government,” he said.
Later on Tuesday, Calderón returned to Twitter to hit back at the president, asserting that the “really cynical thing is to send hugs” to the armed men responsible for Sunday’s massacre, who are allegedly CJNG members.
He also made it clear that he is opposed to the federal government’s decision not to impose sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, retweeting a post on the subject by journalist León Krauze.
“This is an error,” Krauze wrote above a link to a report on the decision. “It places Mexico, in this episode at least, on the wrong side of the history of a brutal and unjustifiable war. The correct position is condemnation and sanctions.”
There is no love lost between López Obrador and Calderón, who have clashed on countless occasions since the latter’s triumph in 2006.
With reports from El Universal