Mexico’s Leftist president has been forced to defend his policy of treating violent criminals with “hugs not bullets” after two Jesuit priests and a tour guide were murdered inside a church in the northern state of Chihuahua.
A manhunt is underway for the suspect.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has championed a “hugs not bullets” strategy to tackle violent crime at its roots by fighting poverty and inequality with social schemes, rather than the army.
But following the murders of priests Javier Campos (79) and Joaquin Mora (81) – who were gunned down while trying to protect tour guide Pedro Palma – Mexico’s dire situation was highlighted by the UN’s human rights representative in Mexico and Pope Francis.
“So many murders in Mexico. I am close, in affection and prayer, to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy,” the pontiff said.
The UN’s Guillermo Fernandez-Maldonado added that “the murder of these two [priests] reminds us of the situation of extreme violence and vulnerability faced by the communities of the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua”.
The incident elicited strong criticism of the president, including from Felipe Calderon, the former Right-wing president. “Whoever commits a crime knows that a hug awaits him and not punishment,” Mr Calderon tweeted.
Over 340,000 people have been killed in violence since 2006, when Mr Calderon used the army to fight drug cartels with US military support. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)
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