SEGOB confirmed to MILENIO the CEFERESO federal prison in Buenavista Tomatlán, Michoacan has been under construction, and it actually should have been finished 11 months ago but has faced so many delays due to narco violence that the government was forced to extend the project for another year until November 2014.
Organized crime has painted a grim picture in La Tierra Caliente area of Michoacan. Los Caballeros Templarios have not only brought their usual bag-of-corruption-tricks to local fruit growers, with the terroristic by-products of extortion, arson, kidnapping, executions, decapitations, bombings of electric plants, but also including their bloody clashes against self-defense groups who abhor and vehemently oppose cartel branded corruption. Also noted is the ongoing chaos of displaced Michoacan residents, running from the grim turmoil of their corrupt government infiltrated by ruthless members of organized crime. Villages in some communities are becoming ghost villages, as once and for all, fleeing residents abandon them for good.
The criminal insolence of area organized crime has brought all these scenarios and even more that are exhibited sometimes daily, reinforcing "the Templarios"
catastrophic capabilities of affecting the most implausible of scenarios; case in point is the on again, off again construction of the federal incarceration projects. The construction of CEFERESO federal prisons periodically have been halted because of the onslaught of extortion threats from area criminals. The penal facility in Buenavista Tomatlán, contractually obligated with a constuction completion date of last December, which has noticeably come and gone, thanks to Los Caballeros Templarios. Now it will finish nearly two years later than the expected completion date.....two years - in November 2014.
During the last six years, the federal government announced that It would build eight new federal jails to incarcerate criminals, and whose construction was be granted to investors. The investment was around 48 billion pesos. Each facility will have capacity to hold 25,000 prisoners. One of those prisons is to be built in the municipality of Buenavista Tomatlán next to the town of La Ruana.
The Mexican developer (Prodemex) is in charge of building the prison to be accomplished In an area known deeply mired in conflicts between groups of drug traffickers and self defense groups, in a Milenio article published last September, it was cited as perhaps not a good idea.
As soon as it became common knowledge that the project was a multi-billion peso investment -6 billion pesos with longterm profit estimated to be more than 12 billion pesos for the services of feeding prisoners and cleaning the prison at 20 years, the Knights Templar began to extort money from the builders. They demanded 20 million pesos in exchange for letting builders work.
The company did not abandon the project. The federal government had to step in to protect the work as the Michoacan site reached up to 4 thousand workers. The area criminals began to terrorize the workers. Architects, engineers, construction workers and drivers were all subjected to ill threats. They couldn't continue the work. Prison construction was suspended and last December construction was officially stopped. Months later work on the facility resumed to 100 per cent, but again there was another slow down, and then again, there was a complete halt of work, and the project lay abandoned.
The Ministry of the Interior Informed Milenio that the federal criminal jail should have been finished 11 months ago, last December. However, it had only advanced 70 percent, it was still lacking 22 per cent of the technological infrastructure.
The Federal Government had to modify the original contract with the construction company: so as to avoid penalizing them. Both sides agreed to invoke a clause in a portion of the security contract and extend the work completion modification through an "amending agreement" said, Jorge Márquez Montes, the Interior senior officer in an interview at Palacio de Covián, he elaborated, "In the specific case of the Buenavista Tomatlán, Michoacan facility, which by reason of area insecurity has caused delays in that construction, the Government is conducting respective analysis of two crucial solutions. The first is amending agreements with the approval of the Ministry of public service and the Treasury for the fulfillment of the contract with the company. "Second; insuring safety measures are met by strengthening the security in the region so that people can work and service providers can carry out their obligations safely."
Because of the state of uncertainty, the criminal incarceration facility is expected to be completed two years after the original date planned in the original contract between the government and the company Prodemex. "The work will conclude in November 2014, to open in December 2015," said the senior officer. The federal government is committed through the Federal Police, to break the criminal blockade and to ensure the safety of workers which will tentatively take place before the end of the year, "once they start work again, workers will have certainty that they can carry out their jobs," said Jorge Márquez Montes.
Last September, Milenio received testimonies from affected workers. Here is one with Marcos previously published:
Marcos was one of the contracted drivers. He was hired to transport engineers from a Morelia construction site, 250 km away, in order build the prison Buena Vista Tomatlán, to reside temporarily in nearby town of La Ruana. Marcos, as well as dozens of workers, resigned because of threats from organized crime.
Marcos-We were told that they did not want us to go by and pick up the workers to bring them to the Cefereso jail site. And yes, we began to quit because of the threats.
-How did they threatened the workers?
Marcos-in many ways. They said that they had experience through cell phone number Investigation, they'd investigate and find where people lived, who were their relatives,, how much money the family had, and that they were going to go over their records. They no longer wanted us to continue working and building the Cefereso ... -
Were workers approached by them?
Marcos-Yes, they were looking for us on the road to scare and threaten us, so they just threw us in trucks to scare use. And while we were in hotels or out on errands, they were calling threatening us, and we simply didn't want to continue
Was there direct contact?
Marcos— yes. for example, The bricklayers were going out to eat. a lady who owned the stand where they were eating passed a radio to one of the workmen. She said to him: "Are John Doe? He said, Yes? And she said, Ah, here's some people who want to speak to you” And, they began with it, threatening the man, and he rapidly left the job at Cefereso. He said to the bosses: "Do you know what?, Get me outta here they threatened me. I do not want to work here any more for anything and he left.”
Of eight federal prison commissioned to private companies only three failed to deliver: Michoacán, Coahuila November 30, 2012 was only 19 percent incomplete, so the company Tradeco was sanctioned to complete the work by November 2014 and Morelos which is 95% complete. Sonora and Durango, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guanajuato was already completed, according to a panel of governors
Sources: Milenio, Sipse