July 20, 2020 / 6:27 PM / 22 days ago

Mexican president sticks to no-war approach after shocking cartel video

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would maintain a less confrontational approach to battling drug gangs even after one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels showcased its firepower in a video that stunned Mexicans.

A video purportedly shot by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), showing dozens of armed gang members in bullet proof vests in front of armored cars painted in military-style camouflage, went viral on social media on Friday.

Lopez Obrador said he would not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations that failed to contain cartel violence, which surged after former President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown on the gangs in late 2006.

“Violence cannot be confronted with violence, fire cannot be extinguished with fire, evil cannot be confronted with evil,” he said. “Evil must be confronted with good.”

Lopez Obrador said his government would face down gangs with intelligence rather than force, focusing on poverty and other root causes of crime.

“We are not going to declare war,” he said.

With homicides reaching record levels, the president has come under growing scrutiny over his security policy, dubbed by Lopez Obrador as one of “hugs, not bullets.”

Many analysts argue his approach has emboldened criminal groups. Murders in Mexico in the first six months of the year hit an all-time high, data showed on Monday.

Reporting by Raul Cortes; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Richard Chang

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