The battle against drug crime in Mexico took a deadly turn as the country registered its worst day of violence so far this year.
Mexican Secretariat of Public Security reported a total of 127 people killed on December 1, the same day that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador marked his first anniversary in office.
The areas with the most homicides were Coahuila with 21, the state of Mexico with 14, followed by Guanajuato and Oaxaca with 10 killings each.
In Coahuila, the government said 16 gunmmen, four police officers, and two civilians were killed after a convoy of vehicles from a suspected local drug cartel drove into town and began firing.
The attack was confirmed as the deadliest in Mexico’s peacetime history. Previously, the day with the highest number of homicides was July 28 this year with 106 people killed.
‘Hugs, not bullets’
For years Mexico has been struggling with violence as previous administrations battled drug cartels, in most cases leading to a fragmentation of gangs and internal vicious fightings.
Leftist Lopez Obrador pledged to overturn militarised crackdowns on drug cartels and instead promised to deal with corruption and inequality.
He also created a new civilian National Guard and proposed a new approach to tackling violence with “Hugs, not bullets” becoming one of his campaign slogans.
But the murder rate is at historic high levels and the country has slipped into recession.
“One year ago, in this same place, I made 100 commitments with the people of Mexico. Today I can say we have accomplished 89 and only 11 remain pending. In these first 12 months we’ve made progress, but we are still on a period of transition,” Obrador said on Saturday.
Despite the challenges, 64 percent of Mexican voters approve of the job he is doing.
“Of course he has still, a long way to go, but when you do things differently everything goes slowly and as people get involved, as things change, he is going to achieve his objectives,” Patricia Rodriguez, a government supporter in Mexico City, told Al Jazeera.
“He has fulfilled my expectations.”
The battle against drug crime in Mexico has taken a deadly turn for the worse. The country has just notched up the most homicides in a single day since records began in 1997 after 127 were killed on December 1. Many are now questioning the president’s strategy of “hugs not bullets” in tackling drug cartel violence.