By Manuel Ayala
Tijuana, Mexico, Aug 19 (EFE).- President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrived Friday in this metropolis of 2 million people on the Mexico-United States border to protests by residents irate over his comments downplaying the terror created here a week ago by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
In a rampage that authorities put down as a reaction to the arrest of a crime boss elsewhere in Mexico, cartel operatives blocked roads and set 28 vehicles – including buses – ablaze in Tijuana and four other cities in Baja California state.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist who took office in December 2018, characterized the eruption of Aug. 12-13 as “propaganda by criminal groups” and his own political adversaries.
“The discourse of the president of the republic seems demagogic to me,” Victor Clark-Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana and a lecturer at San Diego State University, said here Friday.
“This is a matter of public safety, it’s a matter where what is play are economic interests linked to the cartels that are shared with chief of districts of the municipal police and with other authorities at the highest levels,” he said.
Clark-Alfaro likened last weekend’s outburst in Baja California to an episode that unfolded in October 2019 in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state, where members of the Sinaloa Cartel used the threat of massive violence to compel authorities to release Ovidio Guzman, son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
The outcome in Culiacan three years showed the cartels that “strategies of a terrorist character work,” the academic and activist said.
Representatives of civic organizations told Efe that Lopez Obrador needs to focus more on the situation in Baja California.
“Lopez Obrador shouldn’t open his mouth if he doesn’t know the conditions we are in here,” said Irma Leyva Sosa on behalf of Mothers United of Mexicali. “We all know he is a good president, but his people leave much to be desired.”
Melchor Campoy Moreno, president of the Fishermen’s Union of Ensenada, said that crime is a growing worry.
“We think that there are many people mixed up (with organized crime) who are from the government itself, so the president is trying to straighten things out but solving it is complicated,” Campoy told Efe. EFE ma/dr