MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lashed out at critics on Monday after a group of his supporters angrily hectored members of a U.S.-Mexican family protesting to the government about the murder of their loved ones.
Supporters of the president chanted insults at participants of a peace march as their column arrived on the Zocalo square in Mexico City’s historic center next to the presidential palace on Sunday.
Among the leaders of the march were Adrian LeBaron, who lost a daughter and four grandchildren in a November massacre of nine women and children by suspected cartel gunmen.
The nine dead, who were dual U.S-Mexican nationals of Mormon origin, were among the 34,582 homicide victims registered in the country in 2019, a record.
Some American relatives of the LeBarons sparked anger in Mexico after the massacre by urging U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to declare Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations.
Lopez Obrador supporters who jostled the protesters yelled “LeBaron out” and other slogans.
When asked at a regular news conference about the hostility directed toward the peace march by his supporters, the leftist Lopez Obrador said victims of violence deserved respect.
The clashes, he said, were due to “existing differences.”
He then accused conservatives of double standards and argued that groups close to them were not calling for investigations into how former security minister Genaro Garcia Luna had allegedly become involved with a notorious drug cartel.
Without specifying whom he was accusing, Lopez Obrador said those complaining about violence now were “as silent as mummies” when the military-led crackdown on organized crime Garcia Luna had helped mastermind was still underway before his rule.
“Enough hypocrisy,” Lopez Obrador told reporters.
U.S. prosecutors last month arrested and charged Garcia Luna with taking bribes from the cartel formerly run by convicted kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He denies the charges.
One leader of the weekend peace march was Javier Sicilia, a poet who also led protests against gang violence when his son was killed by suspected cartel hit men during former President Felipe Calderon’s administration.
Instead of curbing the violence, homicides rose sharply under the crackdown that started under Calderon. His administration faced widespread criticism for failing to restore order.
Lopez Obrador declined to meet the leaders of the march. He has previously sat down with members of the LeBaron family and other Mormon families whose relatives were killed in the November massacre.
Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jonathan Oatis