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Go forth and sin no more

3 December 2017


Speaking in Quechultenango Guerrero — a stronghold of the “Los Ardillos” cartel — MORENA president Andrés Manuel López Obrador,  did not rule out the possibility of offering amnesty to cartel leaders as a means to ending violence and guaranteeing  peace in the country.

Although speaking in a community where no one from his own party is willing to run for the municipal presidency for fear of meeting the same fate as Armando López Solano, the Citizens’ Movement candidate for that position assassinated two weeks ago, AMLO said he is willing to convince his party’s militants to discuss amnesty, criticizing the previous and present federal governments’ security strategies. He added that, if he wins the Presidency next year, he will he will explore all possibilities to ensure peace and tranquility in the country.

Among those strategies, he said, he does not rule out offering amnesty, even to the the cartel leaders, along with demanding that the United States government implement programs to reduce consumption by its own people.

“We have to talk with Mexicans, with everyone, and we have to ask everyone to help to bring peace to the country (…). We are going to explore all the possibilities, from decreeing an amnesty while listening also to the victims, to demanding the government of the United States to carry out campaigns to reduce drug consumption, “he said.

El Imparcial (Nogales, Sonora): AMLO plantea analizar amnistía a líderes del narco para garantizar la paz, 2 December 2017

El Universal (Mexico City): AMLO analiza amnistía a líderes del narco para garatizar la paz, 2 December 2017

While this made me think of the fictional president Diego Nava’s undelivered speech in the recent Mexican political thriller “Ingobernable”*, what at this point is a vague outline of a suggested discussion point, rather than a policy initiative, is still something that has until now been a taboo among the political class. Lópéz Obrador has occasionally been compared to Donald Trump in his ability to make outrageous, headline-grabbing pronouncements, but — unlike Trump — the “out of the box” comments are not off the cuff, but are calculated statements, details of which are usually not as “radical” as they first seem.

AMLO earlier proposed an amnesty for corrupt officials. As one might expect, the commentarati were of the “no.. lock em up and throw away the key” mentality, but given the obvious difficulty (or reluctance) the government has been having in even attempting to implement a rather mild anti-corruption policy and program, some sort of amnesty is likely to be seen as a step forward.  No one expects corruption to disappear, only to be curbed.    What seems to be suggested by the MORENA candidate is some sort of “truth and justice” commission that would probably let the smaller crooks go, and seek reparations from the bigger offenders.

When it comes to the gangsters, it may be hard to understand, but there often seems to be more empathy for them as “honest criminals” than for “corruptos”.  The gangsters are seen (not by everyone, not by a long shot) as people who had to find some way to survive in a depressed rural economy, and who are as much victims of U.S. policy and consumer demand as anyone else here.  It’s not that people like the gangsters, it’s that they accept that, absent an economic policy that depresses rural wages and opportunity, and an all-too-tempting market next door that offers huge financial rewards, the problem would not affect them.

And, given the mood of the Mexican electorate towards the United States, the suggestion that “our” drug war is “their” problem is good politics…




… that is, assuming AMLO doesn’t end up like Diego Nava, murdered in an elaborate plot involving the CIA and Mexican elites for planning to end the drug war (among other things) to bring peace to the country.

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