Thursday, March 3, 2011
Sinaloa Governor: Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Governor denies that murders impact Mazatlan’s image.
Mazatlan is a popular tourist destination with a “golden zone” of hotel lined beaches and also has one of the largest commercial ports on Mexico’s west coast, and until earlier this year was a popular cruise ship destination.
For the past several weeks west coast cruise ships have dropped Mazatlan as a port of call due to a security situation widely perceived as deteriorating. After having received assurances that security was adequate in the affluent tourist area of the city, the Norwegian Star docked in the port city February 23, with its thousands of passengers vital to the tourist industry.
Unfortunately there was a shootout with two men killed in the tourist zone that same day, reportedly occurring close to dozens of cruise ship passengers who were not hurt in the incident.
The Norwegian Star, Sapphire Princess and Carnival Splendor immediately cancelled all further stops in Mazatlan.
This past Monday morning at about 5:00am, the bodies of five men were hung from two different highway overpasses in the northern and southern entrances to Mazatlan.
The murders occurred in spite of the fact that security in the city had increased with the annual Carnaval festivities set to begin. In a sign of the impunity with which these murders occur one of the sites of the hangings was only several hundred meters from a federal police station.
Banners with messages that were not released by authorities or the media were left at the sight of the hangings, along with hundreds of corn tortillas whose symbolism was unknown.
In an effort to shore up Mazatlan’s declining tourist economy Sinaloa’s Governor, Mario López Valdez (Malova), went on the offensive and announced to the news media from the state capitol of Culiacan that incidents of violence like the five young men murdered and hung from the two bridges in Mazatlan would not affect the image of the tourist port.
"I don’t see how you can link that incident with Mazatlan," said the Governor, "The truth is that these are situations we don’t want to see happen and we are investigating, we are asking the cooperation and assistance of the Army.”
"Of course it doesn’t help that this occurs, but in spite of these killings the incidence of homicides is dropping.”
The Governor also reiterated that Sinaloa has the support and cooperation of the Army and Navy to guard the Carnaval Mazatlan festivities that run thru March 8 and added that a further 200 specially trained state police officers would also be present to maintain security.
Malova also rejected that there is a sense of panic in the port city.
"I do not see it that way, Mazatlan is on the move, it’s a hard working city. The hotel sector is enthusiastic and is offering great choices so that visitors will leave with the best of impressions.”
When asked if Mazatlan was in control Malova answered, “I can’t say that we are in complete control but we are working hard to guarantee safety, to have a presence and be vigilant and be ready to fight back.”
Last Friday, Sinaloa’s head of Public Safety, Franciso Cordova Celaya, traveled to Florida to meet with representatives of the cruise ship lines and again insure that further steps had been taken to increase security in the city’s “golden zone”.
On Saturday, the Governor had announced that the Norwegian Star had re-instated its Mazatlan stop and would disembark its passengers Tuesday, March 1st.
On Tuesday, the cruise ship never arrived. Officials of the cruise line in Florida stated no agreement to re-instate the stop had ever been reached.
30% decrease in homicides
Answering criticism from the PAN opposition that two months into his tenure the PRD Governor still has no security plan to combat organized crime, Malova delared that he will be tolerant of those views.
"The criticism is welcome and I would have to say that we can’t please everyone, but in spite of 2011 looking far more violent nationwide than 2010, here in Sinaloa after 2 months in office we are seeing a 30 percent decrease in murders and if this trend continues we will have fewer than 600 deaths (related to organized crime) this year when compared to 2010," (in Sinaloa between 1,200 and 1,300 murders related to organized crime were recorded in 2010)
Malova also announced that in two weeks an elite state police group will be deployed to work against violence.
Figures on homicides released on Tuesday, March 1st, by the state of Sinaloa’s Attorney General’s office and media outlets, however, failed to match the Governor’s optimistic outlook.
In the first two months of 2011, the municipality of Mazatlan with slightly more than 400,000 residents has actually recorded an increase in murders related to organized crime. For the first two months of 2011, 70 murders have been recorded in Mazatlan, as compared to 67 murders tallied for the same period in 2010.
For the entire state of Sinaloa, 296 murders have been recorded in the first two months of 2011. If this rate continues for the remaining ten months of the year, 2011 will see a minimum increase of 500 more homicides than the total for 2010.
Although it is hoped that a corner will be turned in Sinaloa, as in all of Mexico, in terms of the violence and insecurity this year, if the first two months of 2011 are any indication then Malova’s optimism may be dealt a severe blow.
Matan a 28 en Mazatlan.....
Aparecen 5 jovenes colgados.....
Balacera en la zona dorada
No llega cruzero