Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, the spokesman for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, presented the ads on Tuesday, even though it is not known where the government obtained the footage.
Ramirez wrote in his Tuesday tweet that the videos were part of the Campaign Against Addictions, which purpose was to inform young people of the damage that drugs can cause.
Even though the ads never explicitly tell that the neighborhood shown in the video is indeed Kensington, the videos have sparked concern over Philadelphia’s overall image. The video itself was also weird in the sense that Mexico is the source of most of the fentanyl being sold in the United States.
“The opioid and overdose crisis in Philadelphia is part of a national and even international epidemic, and we agree it is important for everyone to understand, as this video notes, that all street drugs now present an elevated risk of overdose because of fentanyl’s extreme prevalence,” Jim Kenney, a spokesperson for Philadelphia mayor, said.
“Having said that, it is always hard to see our city’s people and neighborhoods portrayed in limited and negative light. No neighborhood, and no person, should be defined by this tragic and widespread crisis.”
Alejandro Hope, Mexico security analyst, on the other hand, criticized the ads as “terrible” by calling them the result of “bad public policy” and saying that there is “no public health message there” because the ads do not include hotlines, advice or treatment options.
Instead, Hope argued that these ads are just repeating “the most aggressive U.S. drug-scare tactics of the 1980s.”
A peer care coordinator in Philadelphia for a nonprofit organization that helps people who struggle with addiction, Kelly Garant, also criticized the ad by calling it exploitative and unacceptable.
“They are actually in a state of crisis, and to be exploited when they’re that vulnerable, it’s just not acceptable. You don’t know whose mother or father or brother that is.”