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Mexico: Bloody demonstrations of power – NPLA

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Mexico: Bloody demonstrations of power – NPLA


Despite a high security force presence, the population in Guerrero cannot feel safe. Photo: Desinformémonos

(Berlin, July 18, 2023, taz).- One year before the next elections in Mexico on June 2, 2024, the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is facing one of the most serious security and violence crises in the country. Car bombs, kidnappings of police officers and members of the National Guard, road blockades by organized crime-controlled civilians, school closures and economic standstill in several cities.

The state of Guerrero in southern Mexico particularly stands out. For more than two weeks, the capital Chilpancingo, as well as the tourist hotspots Acapulco and Taxco, have become practically ungovernable. The reason is another growing phenomenon: extortion. One form of this is the so-called protection money, which is demanded of small business owners and traders who offer transport services and everyday necessities.

During the second weekend of July there was a deadly series of nine attacks by gunmen in Tixtla and Chilpancingo, both central towns in the state. The gunmen set fire to taxis, killing five drivers and injuring five others, including three passengers. All due to non-payment of protection money.

On the following Monday and Tuesday (July 10/11), around 4,000 residents blocked the Autopista del Sol, the most important highway in the south. Led by the criminal group “The Squirrels‘ they called for public investment in their communities, many of them indigenous.

They hijacked a police car, forcibly entered administrative offices, injured some people and took 13 employees hostage for 24 hours, who were only released after negotiations and the intervention of federal authorities.

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Number of murdered increases

In his morning press conference, President López Obrador said this show of force was due to cooperation between local authorities with criminal groups become possible. It is an attempt to destabilize local governments led by his MORENA party. Guerrero is also one of the states with the highest number of candidate murders before the last election.

“We will not let anyone take us hostage,” López Obrador said in his morning conference, but “we will not answer violence with violence.” His government and that of Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado would exercise “presence, patience and prudence”.

The aim of the criminal groups is “to create a social support base, and they achieve this with the help of the very authorities of previous governments that gave them goods to distribute”. His government, on the other hand, has made progress in depriving the groups of this social basis.

Guerrero ranks seventh among the top 10 states with the most premeditated homicides, with Chilpancingo, Iguala and Acapulco seeing increases. In first place, according to available data, is the state of Guanajuato, which is governed by the opposition. Between January and June of this year there were 1,647 murders. Mexico is second with 1,330, Baja California with 1,157, Jalisco with 1,095, Chihuahua with 1,091 and Michoacán with 909 homicides.

Blackmail omnipresent

For Guerrero entrepreneurs who only wish to speak out anonymously in public, the extortion and road blockades are about one thing Demonstration of power by organized crime. In 2013, the year of the worst violence in Guerrero, the federal government put 30 entrepreneurs under special protection who were blackmailed and threatened with death.

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At that time, reports an entrepreneur, “all shops were blackmailed, even the people who sell fruit with a wooden cart. Once the owner of a chicken farm told me that he paid 15,000 pesos protection money every week, the collectors came on time every Saturday. I then spoke to a contact I had in the federal authorities, there was a police operation, the collector was arrested and finally the whole cell was caught.” At the local level, they were always protected, if serious crimes were not legally solved or punished by law, this is known as impunity. This has a lasting effect on the individual sense of recognition of the victims, the overall societal sense of justice and protection against repetition.

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According to local authorities, in 2022 in Guerrero alone, the number of extortions rose by 93 percent. So far, the federal government’s response has been to send more National Guardsmen.

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