Violence in Mexico stirs worries over spring break tourism

Mexico News Daily

Coca-Cola shuts center due to lack of security

Distribution facility in Guerrero closed indefinitely after armed attacks

Mexico News Daily | Saturday, March 24, 2018

Police at the Coca-Cola distribution center, scene of two attacks.

Coca-Cola Femsa has closed its distribution center in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero due to insecurity following months of threats and aggression against its employees.

There were two armed attacks this week on the facility in Ciudad Altamirano.

In a statement released yesterday, the company said that the decision to shut down indefinitely its operations in the city, effective yesterday, is “consistent with the fundamental objective of preserving the security and safety of its [160] employees.”

“The current lack of the necessary conditions to efficiently and safely operate within this part of the state of Guerrero, as exemplified by the recent unjustified assault on one of our employees, led the company to make this decision,” the statement explained.

(AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

At about 3:00 am yesterday, a truck transporting a group of 20 armed men crashed into the main gate of the plant.

According to state security officials, the men intended to set the distribution center on fire but Federal Police officers managed to foil the attack. However, when they arrived at the scene the armed men shot at the National Gendarmerie personnel and a confrontation ensued.

One of the aggressors was arrested but the others managed to escape, leaving behind a pickup truck, a firearm, bullet casings and plastic containers filled with gasoline, the Guerrero Coordination Group (GCG) said.

Two days earlier, the distribution center was targeted in another attack.

In that incident, armed men shot at company employees who were reopening the plant’s sales section, which had been closed since January due to extortion threats. One Coca-Cola worker was seriously wounded in the assault.

In yesterday’s statement, the company said that since the start of the year “its employees at its distribution center in Ciudad Altamirano have received constant threats and acts of aggression from organized crime.”

Shutting down operations due to violence against Coca-Cola in Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most violent states, is not unprecedented.

In August 2014, the bottler temporarily ceased operations in the municipality of Arcelia, located 50 kilometers east of Ciudad Altamirano, after four of its delivery trucks were torched during a dispute between the criminal organizations La Familia Michoacana and Guerreros Unidos.

In February 2015, it shut down its storage facility in the state capital Chilpancingo for two weeks after a company manager and assistant manager were abducted and held hostage by students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.

At the time, the students said that setting the employees free was conditional on the release of two of their fellow students who had been detained by police for looting a Coca-Cola delivery truck.

The students attended the same school as 43 students who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, six months prior to the kidnapping in September 2014.

In June 2015, the company once again shuttered its operations in Arcelia because of constant threats from organized crime.

Yesterday’s decision by the world’s largest Coke bottler brings an end to more than four decades of operations in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero, an area plagued by violent cartel crime.

Last weekend, the army sent in more than 1,200 troops to the same region in Michoacán.

Source: Milenio (sp)


Cancún violence stirs worries over tourism

Spring break visitor numbers expected to be down this year

Mexico News Daily         March 16, 2017

Spring breakers: numbers are down.

Increasing violence in Cancún is leading to increased worry in the tourist industry, which is currently seeing a decline in the number of spring break visitors.

Security specialists say local police need better training and that the situation needs to be brought under control quickly.

One police officer was executed and three others wounded in two separate incidents on Tuesday in the latest outbreak of violence in Cancún.

Orlando Camacho of México SOS, an organization that specializes in justice and security issues, stressed the need for immediate action.

“What we are saying is that it’s necessary to act now, immediately, because the feuding between gangs can carry on multiplying and becoming more complicated, as has been seen in other parts of the country.”

He said hotel owners have met with México SOS and are very worried.

María Elena Morera of another non-governmental organization, Causa en Común, or Common Cause, says the outbreak of violence is not isolated and urged strengthening local police forces and implementing more intelligence efforts.

“Certainly fewer tourists are going to come to [Quintana Roo],” she said, but pointed out that security measures also worsen the perception. “. . . students arrive and see soldiers everywhere; this doesn’t leave a good impression either.”

Those students are traveling to the state for spring break, but their numbers are down, say hoteliers. Cancún hotels association president Carlos Gosselin Maurel said 40,000 visited the city in 2016 but he expects they won’t even see 30,000 this year.

He estimated the number of Canadian “spring breakers” is down 40% due to violence in the city. They are traveling instead to the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean destinations, Gosselin said.

The majority of spring break tourists come from the U.S. Last year they represented about 85% of the total, while Canadians numbered some 8%.

Gosselin noted that those who travel despite the threat of violence must deal with the threat of extortion once they arrive. He said he has heard of more than a dozen cases of spring break visitors being victims of extortion or bribery, with demands that they pay between US $50 and $100.

Spring break is a mixed blessing for many tourism operators. Many don’t like the market because it brings a low economic return while being a hotbed of drug and alcohol sales.

Source: Reforma (sp), El Financiero (sp) 

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

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