Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Although crime is down, more soldiers needed in Acapulco: army commander

Crime is down in Acapulco, but there are still not enough soldiers to contain violence in the Pacific coast municipality, according to a local army commander.

Speaking to members of an Acapulco civil society organization on Wednesday, General Federico San Juan Rosales said that overall crime declined 31% in December, although offenses such as homicide and extortion remained a significant problem in early 2022.

Despite an additional deployment of soldiers to Acapulco in recent months, “we don’t have the forces needed to guarantee security in the entire municipality,” he said.

That municipality extends along the coast and a significant distance inland to a shared border with the municipality of Chilpancingo de los Bravo, where the Guerrero capital is located.

“It’s difficult for us to be everywhere,” San Juan said. “The criminal also thinks; the criminal won’t commit a crime in front of me, he’ll do it behind me because I’m in a uniform.”

The general also said that some Acapulco residents have protested against the army because they are manipulated by organized crime groups. He noted that stall holders at the central market protested during two days last month, accusing the army of committing abuses in the port city.

Crime groups “didn’t want us to go into the market, but we did and we found drugs and weapons,” San Juan said.

“That’s why [organized] crime started to move people and carry out protests and block [the market] so we wouldn’t go in,” he said.

San Juan said it was unclear how many criminal groups are currently operating in Acapulco, described by The Washington Post in 2017 as Mexico’s murder capital.

The municipality was Mexico’s 50th most violent between February 2021 and January 2022 for homicides per capita with a total of 448, or 53 per 100,000 people, according to data compiled by the crime monitoring website elcri.men.

The federal government identified Acapulco as the fifth most violent municipality in the country last July.

Mayor Abelina López Rodríguez said in January that hot weather and bad eating habits were among the factors that caused violence in the city. She also suggested last October that that the media shouldn’t report on violence in Acapulco because doing so damages the tourism industry.

“If we don’t take care” of the tourism industry, “I don’t know how we’re going to eat,” said the Morena party mayor.

With reports from Reforma

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