Days of widespread drug cartel arson and shootings in four states last week have left Mexicans asking why the drug cartels exploded and what do they want.
The attacks killed 11 people, including a young boy and four radio station employees who were randomly shot on the streets of the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, on Thursday.
Two days earlier, more than two dozen convenience stores owned by a well-known national chain were set ablaze in the northern state of Guanajuato. Cars and buses were commandeered and burned in neighboring Jalisco state. And two dozen vehicles were hijacked and set on fire in cities on the California border Friday.
The federal government deployed soldiers and National Guard troops to calm residents’ fears, but the outbursts of violence raised questions about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador‘s approach of putting all responsibility for security in the hands of the military rather than civilian police forces.
Some were quick to brand the arson and shooting attacks as terrorism, while the government denied it. Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López said, “They are not terrorist attacks; you don’t have to exaggerate the facts.”
But it is not clear what the goal was.
“I think that the orders that were given to these gunmen was to cause chaos,” said Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope. “Generate chaos, generate uncertainty, generate fear, shoot at anything that moves. That is something that generates terror.”
But, Hope added: “Terrorism implies a political goal. I don’t know what the political goal is in this case.”
López Obrador suggested Monday the attacks were part of a political conspiracy against him by opponents that he describes as “conservatives” and he argued that “there is no big problem” with security.
“I don’t know if there was a connection, a hidden hand, if this had been set up,” he said. “What I do know is that our opponents, the corrupt conservatives, help in the black propaganda.”