In a “thanks-but-no-thanks” nod to street gangs and drug cartels who have been the scourge of his administration, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has told them to end violent crime rather than donate food. The message comes amid increasingly frequent reports of Mexican citizens receiving care packages of food stamped with cartel logos as they self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reuters reports that Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning leader who has been decidedly more tolerant of the nation’s crime and cartels than past presidents, delivered the message at a press conference on Monday (April 20), reinforcing that the packages filled with basic food stuffs and various cleaning supplies were “not helpful.”
“These criminal organizations that have been seen distributing the packages, this isn’t helpful. What helps is them stopping their bad deeds,” he told reporters at a news conference, adding that they should think of their victims’ families and mothers, as well as their own, for which they’re directly responsible.
Since assuming office, the Lopez Obrador administration has seen an astonishing 34,582 deaths due to homicide. The president has advocated for more socially based solutions over enforcement as a means of curtailing crime.
In the past few days, there have been more and more reports of cartels handing out food and other essentials to poorer residents. Among the benefactors is reportedly one of the daughters of jailed former Sinaloa Cartel king pin Joaquin El Chapo Guzman. The packages she distributed featured the branding of her own company’s “El Chapo 701” logo, which includes the image of her infamous father. The boxes distributed reportedly included cooking oil, rice, sugar and other items, and were given out in the city of Guadalajara.
Other criminal factions that have taken to handing out these items, include the Jalisco New Generation and Los Durango cartels. Images have emerged on social media of heavily armed members of these groups handing out the goods. In the meantime, Lopez Obrador has come under sharp criticism for what many feel is a lack of action to help struggling companies and workers in the midst of the pandemic. To date, there are more than 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as well as nearly 700 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Mexico.