Mexico's new president wants to try negotiations to lessen drug violence

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
(Image credit: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Running on a slogan of "abrazos, no balazos" — "hugs, not gunfire" — Mexico's new President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is planning a radically new approach to drug violence in his country.

López Obrador argues that more than a decade of militarized response to drug gang violence has been unproductive, and that combating violence with more violence cannot work. "You can't fight fire with fire," he said on the campaign trail, proposing negotiations with drug cartels in pursuit of a "plan for reconciliation and peace," as well as anti-poverty programs to lessen the appeal of smuggling work, potential legalization of some drugs, and perhaps even amnesty for nonviolent drug offenders.

So far, he has yet to release a comprehensive, detailed proposal. The amnesty idea in particular will receive significant pushback from much of the Mexican public as well as the United States, which partners with Mexico in military enforcement of drug laws.

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"The failed strategy of combating insecurity and violence will change," López Obrado declared in his victory speech. "More than through the use of force, we will tend to the causes that give rise to insecurity and violence."

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