Things That Matter

Mexico’s President AMLO Says That ‘El Chapo’ Should Of Got A Different Sentence, Not Life In Prison

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday called the jail conditions of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman ‘inhumane’, after the drug lord was rushed out of New York within hours of receiving life sentence. 

Lopez Obrador said at his regular morning conference that sentences like the one for El Chapo – ‘a sentence for life in a hostile jail, hard, inhumane’ – made a life no longer worth living. 

The convicted Mexican drug lord was forced to immediately depart for the highest security prison in the U.S. to serve his term, his lawyer confirmed on Thursday. 

At his daily press conference, AMLO said he felt the life sentence ‘El Chapo’ received was inhumane.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday blasted Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s life sentence as “inhumane” — echoing comments made by the convicted druglord himself.

“A sentence for life in a hostile jail” would be “hard” and not worth living, said AMLO at a morning press conference.

He did, however, call Guzman out for his murderous ways and drug-fueled life of crime. “It’s something very painful,” said López Obrador, adding that he had “many victims in mind.”

AMLO’s comments come a day after Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison.

Guzman will spend the rest of his life in Colorado’s supermax prison after being convicted in February on an array of drug-trafficking charges.

Ahead of his sentencing this week, the Sinaloa Cartel leader claimed his incarceration was “physical, emotional and mental torture” — and “the most inhumane situation” he had ever experienced in his “entire life.”

After the Mexican President’s comments went public…this was basically the country’s collective response.

Many said the president was bringing shame to his country with ignorant comments about a man who was connected to the murder of thousands of people.

While some speculated that perhaps the rumors of corruption among AMLO and his alleged connections to El Chapo may be true after all.

Many in Mexican media weren’t buying any of AMLO’s take. Many accused him of complete hypocrisy.

Many took issue with the Mexican President’s treatment of migrants fleeing violence in their home countries to get to the US – and crossing through Mexico in the process. Mexican authorities, at the direction of AMLO, have began series of zero tolerance campaigns aimed at cracking down on migrants.

The government has placed record numbers of migrants in detention centers – similar to those in the US. And as one Twitter user pointed out, AMLO seems more concerned about the treatment of a convicted murderer than that of people fleeing violence.

AMLO also plans to go after any assets seized by the US to use in his own country.

In his sentencing order, the judge demanded a $12 billion forfeiture from El Chapo to the US government for the impact his crimes have had on society. However, AMLO said that he would work to get every asset seized by the US back into the hands of Mexico.

From Record Cartel Violence To A Slumping Economy, Mexican President AMLO Has Had A Rocky First Year

Things That Matter

From Record Cartel Violence To A Slumping Economy, Mexican President AMLO Has Had A Rocky First Year

Edgard Garrido / Getty

Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has been in office for one year, but many feel his administration has been overshadowed by cartel violence despite a few wins for Mexico’s poor. AMLO, as he is nicknamed, secured a win in 2018 by promising to end corruption, stabilize the economy and improve social services. 

But under AMLO homicides continued to increase, as they had been for ten years, to 35,000 so far in 2019. Cartel violence has caused 200,000 deaths in a decade, according to Al Jazeera. His supporters say AMLO cannot be blamed for inheriting Mexico’s long history of organized crime-related violence. 

AMLO has been dealt with several violent blows to his campaign.

“We cannot pin the current security dynamics entirely on AMLO because they have been built up over a long period of time,” Eduardo Moncada, a political scientist at Barnard University, told Al Jazeera.

The killing of a family of at least nine Mormon dual citizens of the U.S. and Mexico, six of which were children, by cartels in November, reignited fears of increasing violence in the country. The failed arrest of Ovidio Guzman, notorious Sinaloa drug lord El Chapo’s son, has created the appearance that AMLO isn’t tough enough on crime. 

When Guzman was arrested by police, the Sinaloa cartel retaliated by setting dozens of cars on fire and taking security officials hostage, 13 people died. ALMO was forced to release Ovidio. In October, over a dozen police officers were killed by the same cartel. ALMO does not want to meet violence with violence.

“We are never going to opt for war, for confrontation using force,” Lopez Obrador said in a news conference following the Mormon killings. “What matters to us are people’s lives.”

Many have begun to question the effectiveness of AMLO’s “hugs not bullets” approach.

Donald Trump announced that Mexican cartels would be designated “terrorist” groups, much to the chagrin of Mexico. 

“Since 1914, there hasn’t been a foreign intervention in Mexico and we cannot permit that,” Lopez Obrador said in response. “Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory.” 

AMLO pledged to end the militarized approach to dealing with cartels, choosing to focus on addressing poverty instead. The president created a new civilian National Guard and wants to give low-level criminals amnesty. While many are wondering if his approach is the right one, as violence continues, analysts have said the hostile tactics of the past 13 years under President Felipe Calderon were a complete failure, according to Al Jazeera. 

“He is threading the needle between being a pragmatist with a complicated reality, and being true to his leftist roots,” Moncada said. 

AMLO’s constant placating to Trump has immigrants rights groups worried. 

To avoid tension with the United States, AMLO deployed thousands of National Guard officers to the Southern border to prevent illegal crossings. 

“The government of Lopez Obrador reacted in a way that many did not expect,” Carlos Peterson, Mexico senior analyst for the Eurasia Group, told Al Jazeera. “He wants to avoid any conflict so he has been caving into Trump’s demands.”

He also agreed to the U.S. policy of Migrant Protection Protocols which requires migrants to stay in Mexico while awaiting immigration court hearings in the United States. 

“The move has forced thousands of migrants, among them families with young children, to live for months in crowded shelters in high-crime border cities or on the streets,” according to Al Jazeera. 

The Mexican economy has also slowed after AMLO decided to cancel a $13 billion airport in Mexico City and scrapped a plan to allow private capital into the oil and gas industry. AMLO made Mexico the only country to sign USMCA, the trade deal to replace NAFTA, which has not even been ratified by US Congress. Many wonder if AMLO’s foreign policy is taking too many leads from the Trump administration, and at what cost? 

AMLO is still considered a champion of the poor and has had many wins. 

A year into his six-year term, AMLO’s fate remains up in the air. With nearly half of Mexico’s population living in poverty, AMLO has created new structural and social welfare programs. He turned the decadent presidential compound into a public park, decreased his security detail, sold the presidential jet, and cut government salaries including his own, according to Al Jazeera. 

AMLO has created scholarships, grants, and training programs for young people. Pensions were expanded for senior citizens and government workers, and new stipends were implemented for the disabled. 

“It’s not easy to be successful in such a short period of time, Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and Migrant Rights, told Al Jazeera. “There is no magic bullet to addressing Mexico’s violence or its other social problems, there is no easy quick fix.” 

Mexican President AMLO Puts His Foot Down, Tells Trump No US Intervention In Fighting The Drug Cartels

Things That Matter

Mexican President AMLO Puts His Foot Down, Tells Trump No US Intervention In Fighting The Drug Cartels

Grupo MX Noticias

There is no denying that the Mexican drug cartels are multinational criminal networks whose poisonous tentacles have reached far and deep into the social, financial and political structures of countries all around the world. The current US presidency has placed blame of many of the ailments of the country on the Southern neighbor, Mexico, from migration crisis to issues of national security. A new measure about to be taken by the Trump administration has the potential to forever change Mexico-US relations and the place of Washington in Latin America as a whole.

Trump has made moves towards declaring the cartels as terrorist organizations.

Credit: WUNC

Trump recently revealed in an interview that he is lobbying to declare drug cartels to be terrorist organizations, claiming that the drug-abuse epidemic that leads to more than 100,000 deaths per year is a mass murder and that the finger should be pointed at el vecinito del sur. Now, this change goes far beyond wording. It could actually lead to a situation in which the US Congress could approve military and covert operations in Mexico, much like has happened in terrorist-harboring countries such as Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen. This could have enormous repercussions for the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico, and in the geopolitics of the Americas at large.

Trump was damning during an interview with Fox News conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs secretary, released an statement saying: “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that it has contacted U.S. authorities to understand the meaning and scope of the remarks”. We are sure that Trump’s words sent the diplomatic world scrambling for official positions. 

AMLO has said no thanks to Trump’s position for fighting the cartels. Of course, Mexico is wary of intervention so it is only offering cooperation.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has historically been very critical of United States interventionism not only in Mexico but Latin America at large. Donald Trump has been singing AMLO’s praises since the man from Tabasco got in power, but this might be a turning point in their relationship. Let us not forget that AMLO received the ousted Bolivian former president Evo Morales with open arms, and that Morales’ version of the events that rocked the balance of power in Bolivia points to US intervention in what he has sustained was a coup. During his daily morning press conference he told the press that he would rather send Thanksgiving hugs to Americans rather than confront them at this time. He also said this gesture would be: “Just to say cooperation yes, interventionism no” 

Remember the Plan Colombia in the 1990s? Well, it didn’t end too well for the South American nation.

There are of course precedents to United States intervention in Latin America to fight the cartels. Ever since the Raegan era and the DEA’s first forays into cartel lands, US presence has been constant, both officially and unofficially. Bill Clinton launched the celebre and infamous Colombia Plan to give military aid to the country to fight the post-Pablo Escobar mess left in the shape of guerrillas and new cartel bosses in Cali.

Critics to current US policy towards Mexico say that there is a move towards interference with domestic affairs. Of course, the strong cartel presence and evident power in cities like Culiacán and states such as Jalisco has made the notion of a total lack of government control get strength among security policy circles. There is no denying that some conservatives in Mexico would even welcome an increased intervention in local matters, but the vast amount of the population would be in opposition.

What would increased US military presence mean? 

It would be a seismic shift in Mexico, where the US is seen sometimes as a historical adversary. The myths surrounding the battle of El Alamo and the loss of a vast amount of territory to the US still resonate in the Mexican psyche and is seen as a blow to national pride. Further, US influence in national affairs would be a catastrophic development for the AMLO presidency. How would the cartels respond? The recent events in Culiacán are a good indication perhaps, as cartel bosses fear extradition more than death itself.

The call to name Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations echoes the plight of the LeBaron family, a clan of Mormon Mexican-American dual citizens who recently suffered a massacre at the hands of organized crime. It is important to note that Mormons in the state of Chihuahua have blood ties with powerful Washington personalities including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.