After footage of cartel members giving out Christmas presents in Guadalajara surfaced, President López Obrador urged Mexicans not to be "manipulated" into supporting drug cartels, Mexico News Daily reported.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) local commander Ricardo Ruiz, also known as "RR" or "El Tripa," is seen in a video, shared on social media, handing toys from a vehicle in the El Retiro neighborhood on Christmas Eve.

AMLO responded when questioned about it at his morning press conference.

“They are using people,” he said, “I’ll take the opportunity to say it so that people don’t allow themselves to be manipulated… even if [the cartel members] give them groceries, that is not in good faith; it is to use the population as a shield.”

According to AMLO, cartels employ these strategies to foster social cohesion within their areas of influence in the hopes that this will encourage residents to provide early information about police operations and spark protests against unfavorable laws.

In Mexico, the phenomenon has a long history. The Gulf Cartel has sponsored community festivals, the CJNG has previously distributed food and toys, and the Sinaloa Cartel has funded regional social services.

During the coronavirus pandemic, numerous criminal organizations also distributed handouts, however, AMLO claimed that the practice has decreased under his leadership.

He did, however, add that the phenomenon is currently resurfacing as cartels attempt to incite the populace to demonstrate against the National Guard.

AMLO has defended the National Guard throughout his administration as a crucial defense against cartels and worked to minimize critiques of the militarized force’s impact on local communities and human rights.

“[The cartels] don’t want us to establish National Guard barracks, which we only have now in Jalisco, where there are apparently spontaneous demonstrations [by local people] saying they don’t want the National Guard,” he said.

“It happened to us in Chihuahua,” the president said. “We still have something like that in Michoacán.”

“The Federal Police didn’t have barracks; it was a complete mess,” he added. “Moreover, they ended up protecting the gangs, so now there is more presence of the National Guard.”

President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Representation image. Photo by Josue Decavele/Getty Images

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.