Pueblos Mágicos are towns that have special features and are so designated with the intention of sending tourists their way.
But the Magical Towns in the northern and northeastern Sierra regions in the state of Puebla — such as Cuetzalan, Chignahuapan, Huauchinango, Tlatlauquitepec, Pahuatlán and Zacatlán — are seeing more violence due to the increasing presence of criminal gangs, according to municipal officials.
Those officials spoke to the newspaper Reforma on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals not only from gangs but from mayors, too.
The regidores, or municipal council members, claim that official instructions are that they continue to promote tourism, omitting any comment on the operation and presence of criminal organizations.
According to officials from Pahuatlán and Zacatlán, drug traffickers are increasing their operations in those municipalities, where they are also witnessing more kidnapping and extortion.
The councilors believe the increase is due to gang members using the Tuxpan-Valley of Mexico highway, and that most gangs are based at each end, in the states of México and Veracruz.
“The municipal government is not a competent authority, that’s why we don’t have figures on kidnappings or extortion, or on drug trafficking,” they said.
“. . . We’re hearing more and more about levantones [kidnappings] on the roads, and that is worrying for . . . the providers of tourist services.”
The non-governmental organization Human Rights Defense Network (Red de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) warned that armed groups have been operating in the Zacapoaxtla-Cuetzalan region for two months.
Just last weekend, municipal authorities in Cuetzalan found the bodies of three tourists, presumably victims of those armed groups.
The councilors said such incidents are becoming common in their parts of the state.