Staying the Course Against Mexico’s Cartels

3/11/2017 Stratfor

Andres_manuel_lopez_obrador_oct05Mexico’s next presidential election is around the corner, and it has many people wondering how the new leader will tackle the country’s enduring security problems. Mexican citizens will head to the polls in July 2018 to choose a head of state to lead their nation through the next six years, and according to a recent poll, populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is poised to win a third of their votes. Should he perform as well as he is expected to, Lopez Obrador could bring even greater uncertainty to Mexico as he assumes the country’s highest office.

At least, that is, if his statements are an accurate gauge of his actions as president. Lopez Obrador has routinely criticized the security strategy of his old political rival, former President Felipe Calderon, who defeated the populist politician in 2006 by a margin of less than 1 percent of the popular vote. Lopez Obrador has argued that Mexico City’s long-standing policy of using the country’s armed forces to target criminal organizations has led to greater violence. And as groups fracture under the pressure of law enforcement, their competition for the resources and territory left in the wake of military operations has certainly intensified. Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador’s vehement opposition to the views of U.S. President Donald Trump has also raised questions about how he would treat with Washington if he is elected. After all, the United States is an important intelligence-sharing and defense partner to Mexico in its efforts to rein in rampant crime.

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