Murders in Mexico rose by 33 percent in 2018, shattering the previous record for the second year in a row, according to an official tally released last month. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO as he is known in Mexico, campaigned on a new approach to the country’s spiraling security crisis, promising to de-militarize law enforcement efforts and address the social issues that he says are the root causes of violence. But in an interview with WPR, Eric Olson, a global fellow and security expert with the Mexico Institute at The Wilson Center in Washington, says a closer look at AMLO’s policies since he took office in December reveals “a sharp departure” from his campaign rhetoric.
World Politics Review: How successful has AMLO been so far in distinguishing his approach to Mexico’s security crisis from that of his predecessors, who were largely unsuccessful in addressing this spiraling violence?
Eric Olson: During the campaign, transition and soon after taking office, AMLO promised not to repeat the mistakes of the past. He promised a new strategy to address the plague of violence facing Mexico, focusing on social investments, poverty reduction and economic opportunity. He floated ideas such as an amnesty for some involved in the drug trade, de-militarizing the fight against illicit drugs and building up the civilian police.