Wednesday, May 22, 2024

As Colima faces a surge of shootings, state authorities keep quiet

As the army has driven the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) out of Aguililla, the neighboring state of Colima has seen a surge in violence. A number of shootings, killings and kidnappings in and near the city of Colima have sparked panic in the state since Monday, but as bullets and rumors fly, authorities have remained relatively quiet.

The first shooting was reported Monday in the Lomas de Vista Hermosa neighborhood of Colima city. The state attorney general’s office (FGE) reported that state police who responded to reports of gunshots found more than 200 bullet casings and two vehicles with bullet impacts.

There appear to have been at least three more shootings since Monday in Colima city and the nearby municipalities of Villa de Álvarez and Coquimatlán, according to reporting by Milenio and Infobae, but the FGE has not released any further statements mentioning said shootings. Information is scarce, but at least three people had been killed as of Tuesday, Milenio reported.

On Facebook, the state government has continued to share information about COVID safety and a state volunteer appreciation ceremony with no mention of the violence in the capital as of Thursday morning, while dozens of commenters on the posts requested information about the violence or, with stronger language, demanded answers.

“How about an official statement, a press conference or something to inform the public about the past three days of violence? STOP MINIMIZING!” commented one Facebook user on Wednesday, on the post about the volunteer appreciation ceremony.

On Tuesday, Navy Minister Rafael Ojeda was in the state with National Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez Velázquez for a closed-door meeting with Governor Indira Vizcaíno.

Users on Twitter who said they were in the capital city reported hearing frequent gunfire since Monday. Others shared memes making light of the lack of government response to the violence.

On Tuesday, National Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez Velázquez visited the state for a closed-door meeting with Governor Indira Vizcaíno. Vizcaíno said on Twitter that the purpose of the meeting was to “perfect the coordination between both levels of government and strengthen security strategies,” without mention of the ongoing violence. The commander of the National Guard and navy intelligence personnel were also in attendance.

A number of schools closed due to the uncertain security situation. José Martí University announced on Tuesday that in-person classes would be temporarily moved online due to the violence. And on Wednesday night, the University of Colima announced that it would suspend classes on Thursday and Friday, also in light of the violence. The University of Colima cancellations applied to five municipalities throughout the state and drew greater public attention to the violence the state has experienced since Monday.

An anonymous opinion piece published by the state outlet Diario de Colima on Thursday questioned the government’s silence.

“Since the early hours of Monday, when a house in the capital was attacked by an armed commando, the executions, shootings, kidnappings, dismemberments and appearance of menacing messages have come one after another, in the face of the inexplicable paralysis of state and federal authorities,” the unnamed citizen wrote, adding that residents were alarmed and that the gap in information caused by government silence was leading to “rumors, false news, speculation and decisions based on fear, such as the suspension of a number of schools.”

At least four banners signed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the criminal group Los Mezcales have appeared since Monday, apparently due to a conflict between the two groups. The banners reference threats to the life of the governor and one, signed by “CJNG, the owners of Colima,” threatened to kill Los Mezcales and anyone associated with them.

The University of Colima, seen here, and other schools in the capital have closed due to the violence.

Little is known about Los Mezcales, but their name may be a reference to a Colima city neighborhood.

The surge of violence comes two weeks after a Colima prison riot left nine inmates dead.

In an interview with Milenio after the riot, Colima Secretary of Public Security Manuel Llerandi Ruiz attributed the riot and deaths to a conflict between CJNG and Los Mezcales, identifying Los Mezcales as a criminal group that had formerly worked for the CJNG.

With reports from Milenio, Infobae, Colima Noticias and El Diario de Colima

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