MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stopped to take a photo with a singer known for his celebratory “narcocorridos” during the president’s visit to Sinaloa on Wednesday.
Alfredo Rios, better known as “El Komander,” is famous on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for popular ballads that recount Mexico’s brutal drug wars, often seen as glorifying violence and members of the cartels.
Rios lives in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, a stronghold of the Sinaloa Cartel, and has composed songs about the group and its former leader, notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Lopez Obrador’s photo with the singer and his family comes after the president faced criticism for shaking hands with Guzman’s mother during a previous visit to Sinaloa.
His government also suffered politically after ordering the release of Ovidio Guzman, one of El Chapo’s sons, after his brief detention during a military operation that led to heavily armed cartel gunmen effectively taking control of Culiacan for hours.
(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey; Editing by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Matthew Lewis)