Insecurity in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero has triggered the departure of another beverage company.
PepsiCo closed its distribution center last week in Ciudad Altamirano, two and a half months after Coca-Cola did the same, and for the same reasons: violence, extortion and a lack of security for employees.
Pepsi gathered refrigerators it had distributed throughout the nine municipalities that make up the region and laid off at least 70 workers.
The facility had been running for more than three decades.
Officials from the state Secretariat of Economy traveled to the northern Guerrero city yesterday, but the distribution center had already closed.
They said operations had been terminated on Friday and that not even signage had been left behind.
The bottler released a statement last night to announce that the closure, which it described as temporary, was due to the absence of the conditions necessary for it to continue distributing its products to the market.
According to workers, extortion demands and threats of aggression began several months ago by organized crime, whose intention was to control the sale of the company’s products. They said in spite of government efforts to reenforce vigilance and security, impunity and violence still prevail in Ciudad Altamirano.
A company executive told the newspaper Bajo Palabra that all three levels of government were aware of the insecurity “and never did anything.” One was a senior federal official who “knew what was happening.”
A state head of Coparmex, the Mexican Employers’ Federation, blamed government inaction for the closure. “We are very concerned, and we are against what is happening, but the federal government is not acting,” Joel Moreno Temelo charged.
He said the departure of Coca-Cola and Pepsi was a severe blow for the local economy.
The state government said today it was communicating with both companies to determine why they left and what they needed in order to return. Economic Development Secretary Álvaro Burgos Barrera said the Guerrero Coordination Group, a security agency, was addressing security in the region and designing strategies to confront the violence.
The Tierra Caliente region is the stage of a violent turf war between at least four criminal gangs, the Familia Michoacana, the Caballeros Templarios, the Tequileros and the Guerreros Unidos.