( Spanish) — Several acts of armed violence on highways and businesses such as OXXO stores have frightened the population of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato and Chihuahua in recent days. According to the Government of Mexico, the acts are the result of clashes between criminal groups as well as a reaction to operations by the authorities, and the attacks on businesses seem to be a form of intimidation of the civilian population and state officials, according to specialists.
On Thursday, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, experienced a day of violence that left 11 dead and 20 injured. The governor of Chihuahua, María Campos, assured that she ordered the deployment of operations in the town. The official added that the entire force of the State will work together with the federal and municipal authorities to restore order.
The attorney general of Chihuahua, Roberto Fierro, said at a press conference this Friday that the authorities have identified the criminal group that planned and orchestrated these acts of violence, but that for reasons of the investigation they will reserve the man from the gang responsible.
The Undersecretary of Public Security of the Government of Mexico, Ricardo Mejía, said that it all started with a fight inside the state prison Cereso Number 3, where a group belonging to Los Chapos were attacked by members of the Mexicles criminal gang. According to Mejía, this generated a fight that ended with two inmates killed by firearms and 20 wounded. The undersecretary indicated that the prison authorities were able to reestablish control, but that alleged members of the Mexicles began riots against the population. Among the fatalities is a Mega Radio announcer and three other people who provided technical service to the station, Mejía explained.
For its part, on Tuesday, several cities in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Guanajuato experienced hours of violence when groups of criminals blocked avenues and burned vehicles and businesses. Authorities said it was in retaliation for the arrest of a criminal leader.
Videos from social networks showed the chaos generated by an operation against organized crime in Jalisco and Guanajuato, as confirmed by the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the governor of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro. The authorities assure that there are detainees and give the damage count.
alfaro described the day on Tuesday as “a hard and painful night” in that state of western Mexico, due to the burning of vehicles and convenience stores, after a confrontation, he said, between federal forces and members of organized crime in the municipality of Ixtlahuacán del Río .
According to the governor, organized crime groups tried to block the city’s exits to prevent police reinforcements from arriving.
In his morning press conference this Wednesday, López Obrador explained that the acts of vandalism occurred because the police authorities interrupted a meeting between two organized crime gangs. “There are already detainees in both Jalisco and Guanajuato of those who were at the meeting,” he added.
And at a press conference this Friday, the Mexican president assured that the acts of violence in Chihuahua, Guanajuato and Jalisco are acts that had not occurred in the country “and hopefully they will not be repeated because the innocent civilian population was attacked, like a kind of retaliation. It wasn’t just the confrontation between two groups, but the time came when they started shooting civilians, innocent people. So this is the most unfortunate part of this matter.”
“It is a psychology of terror that they are operating, but they are also sending messages that they have strength and dominate and that at any time they can take hostile action against people, against government officials, against people on the roads and even innocent people to impose terror,” Raúl Benítez Manaut, an expert on security and armed forces issues and a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told .
“The state of Guanajuato is mainly a space for dispute with the gasoline thieves, the famous huachicoleros, and it is also the communication that directs to Mexico City, where the Jalisco cartel has tried to penetrate especially on the east of the city, over the municipalities of the State of Mexico, especially in Ecatepec,” said Benítez.
FEMSA, the company that owns the OXXO stores, issued a statement condemning the acts of violence and pointed out that in Ciudad Juárez one of its stores was set on fire and another was shot, and confirmed that an employee and “a young woman who had gone to submit your job application.
“During the last few days in some municipalities of León, Celaya, Zapopan and Ciudad Juárez we have experienced moments of tension and violence against customers, employees and stores,” said the National Association of Self-Service and Department Stores, ANTAD, and asked the authorities “to strengthen (security) and take the necessary measures to preserve the rule of law“.
With information from Gerardo Lemos, Belén Zapata and Mario González