Mexico President André Manuel López Obrador is urging calm after his country was rocked by several days of cartel-fueled violence.
“I want to tell the people of Mexico to be calm, that there is governance, there is stability,” López Obrador said during an address from the National Palace in Mexico City.
The president then suggested his adversaries, “the conservatives,” were trying to amplify the situation for their own agenda.
“At the same time, there is an interest on the part of our adversaries, the conservatives, to magnify things, to do tabloid, sensationalist journalism,” he said. “I don’t know if there was a connection, a hidden hand, if this had been set up. What I do know is that our opponents, the corrupt conservatives, help in the black propaganda.”
Days of widespread drug cartel arson and shootings in four states last week have killed at least 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 López Obrador’s approach of putting all responsibility for security in the hands of the military rather than civilian police forces.
Over the weekend, U.S. government employees in Tijuana, Mexico were instructed to stay sheltered and out of public places as a precaution.
“The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana is aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada and Tecate,” the consulate said. “U.S. government employees have been instructed to shelter in place until further notice.”