Mexican bishop criticizes President López Obrador for being soft on crime

Bishop Víctor Alejandro Aguilar Bishop Víctor Alejandro Aguilar, bishop of Celaya and head of the Episcopal Dimension for the Laity of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate. | Credit: Social Networks of “Together for Mexico”

During the third edition of the “Together for Mexico” meeting, held Oct. 1 with the theme “Artisans of Peace,” Bishop Víctor Alejandro Aguilar, who heads the Episcopal Dimension for Laity of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, criticized the policy of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador against organized crime, calling it “hugs for drug traffickers and bullets for the poor.”

The Mexican bishop was turning around the catchy phrase that rhymes in Spanish adopted by López Obrador during his presidential election campaign: “abrazos y no balazos” (hugs, not bullets), which he used to describe his new approach to fighting organized crime in contrast to the “war on drugs” undertaken by Felipe Calderón during his six-year term (2006–2012) and during the term of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012–2018).

López Obrador’s concept was to focus on the root causes of young people getting involved in the drug cartels such as poverty and lack of opportunities while at the same time not neglecting law enforcement.

“Together for Mexico” is an event for associations, lay institutions, and Catholic movements at the national level that seek to promote human rights and human life.

In his participation in the event, Aguilar, who is also the bishop of Celaya, noted the proximity of the 2024 elections, in which Mexicans will vote for a new president, new federal senators, and representatives as well as different officials at the state and local level.

“There are a lot of people that we are going to elect and they are going to come around to your community,” the prelate said. “We have to tell them that we need security, peace, a government that does its job,” he said.

“They are our servants and we must speak to them with truth and charity but make demands of them,” he added.

Aguilar highlighted the will of the Catholic Church to work to promote peace in the face of the growing violence racking the country.

“We have tried to create all these synergies and involve all of the laity, movements, institutions,” he explained.

The prelate also stressed the need for “everyone’s effort” to address “not only the data, the statistics” of violence, but also to take up the work for peace, since “we are all co-responsible.”

The bishop also called on Catholics and non-Catholics as well as businessmen, academics, and leaders of associations and institutions, to work together and have good communication among themselves about the initiatives they have.

“We have to make actions visible,” he said, because often “we don’t know what others are doing and we think we are doing nothing, when we are really doing a lot.”

Afterward, speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, the bishop of Celaya talked about the work “Together for Mexico” is doing at Anáhuac University to promote the participation of young people in the construction of peace.

Aguilar highlighted the importance of the event and assured that he will study how to “work from the parishes and take up some elements of this national agenda.”

“We intend to continue building peace in Mexico. We know that we are living through difficult times. Our country is bloodied, it cries out for justice and we live with a government that is insensitive to the realities that our Mexico is going through,” the prelate emphasized.

“We cannot be silent nor can we sit with our hands tied, so we want to be co-responsible and merciful with our people and also because we have also had to suffer acts of violence!” the bishop stressed.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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