Hugs, not bullets

He promised to be the president of "hugs, not bullets," and to bring peace to Mexico after years of surging criminal violence. But Andrés Manuel López Obrador is facing a public outcry after a massacre at a birthday party that has revived a sense that the country is spinning out of control. The attack stood out for its brutality.

Gunmen burst into the birthday celebration in the southern state of Veracruz on Friday night, opening fire and killing five women, seven men and a 1-year-old boy, according to the state security chief, Hugo Gutierrez.
But the shooting was just one sign of intensifying violence throughout the country. Over the weekend, the federal government released new data showing that the first quarter of the year was the most violent in recent Mexican history. A total of 8,493 people were killed, a 9.6 percent increase over the same period in 2018.

López Obrador only stoked public anger with his initial reaction to the birthday-party massacre. He called his political opponents hypocrites for criticizing him when they were “quiet as mummies” about crime-fighting failures of past administrations.

The ensuing furor has become a rare political setback for a leftist president who won a landslide victory in July by promising to fight corruption and help the poor. López Obrador has built up an 80 percent popularity rating since he took office in December. Opposition politicians, academics and media columnists accused him in recent days of downplaying the violence and treating the criticism as a political issue.

Source and full report by Mary Beth Sheridan in the Washington Post here...