The Mexican public is about evenly split on whether the government made the right decision to release the son of notorious drug lord “El Chapo” Guzman, according to a poll released Monday.
The national newspaper Reforma found that 49% of respondents said they were not “in agreement” with the federal government’s decision to release Ovidio Guzman Lopez. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents were in agreement with the decision.
But the public does appear to agree on one thing. The Reforma poll also found that 56% of respondents believe that at this time, organized crime is stronger than the Mexican government. Only 33% responded that they believe the opposite after the release.
Mexican law enforcement officials reportedly captured Lopez last week in Culiacan, Sinaloa, the capital city known for being a stronghold of the Sinaloa cartel. Shortly after, rumors of his arrest prompted cartel members to take to the streets in the capital city, going on shooting rampages, burning cars and creating chaos.
At least eight people died and more than 50 cartel members reportedly escaped prison during the attacks. In addition, the cartel members kidnapped several army troops and held them hostage. The Mexican army later said they were outnumbered.
The federal government decided to give the OK to release Lopez, who is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has since said he supported the government’s decision because it brought peace to the region.
Obrador, who is known for not wanting to fight “violence with violence,” said the move saved lives in Culiacan.
“You cannot fight fire with fire. We do not want deaths. We do not want a war,” he said at a press conference.
The decision has been highly controversial in Mexico. Some worry that bending to the wishes of drug cartels will set a precedent which could backfire in the future. Others believe that the lives that may have been saved in Culiacan outweigh the need for the alleged drug trafficker to be behind bars.
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