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The empty Ford dealership in Chilpancingo. The empty Ford dealership in Chilpancingo.

Ford closes Guerrero dealership due to insecurity, extortion

The head of a business organization in Chilpancingo says 20,000-peso extortion payments had been increased

The Ford dealership in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, has closed due to insecurity and extortion, a local business leader said.

Pioquinto Damián Huato, president of the Chilpancingo chapter of the National Chamber of Commerce (Canaco), said that organized crime had been demanding 20,000 pesos (US $1,000) per month in cobro de piso or extortion payments from the dealership’s owners but recently increased the amount.

“. . . They preferred to close and leave Chilpancingo [than keep paying],” Damián explained, although earlier reports said the closure followed a significant decline in sales. But that was blamed on crime levels by employees of the dealership last week.

Damán said violence and insecurity in the Guerrero capital continues to be of great concern and that many other businesses have also been forced to shut.

“At the most, there are [only] 10 big business owners that remain in the capital,” Damián said.

Volvo and Volkswagen dealerships also recently closed in Chilpancingo although the latter apparently didn’t do so due to security concerns.

Damián said the state Congress needs to change the penal code so that those found guilty of extortion face prison sentences of up to 40 years, contending that the proposal of a Guerrero lawmaker from president-elect López Obrador’s Morena party for 16-year jail terms isn’t harsh enough.

The business leader, who since 2013 has been afforded government protection due to death threats against him, said he has lost count of the number of businesses that have closed this year due to insecurity.

“. . . A lot of business people left because they couldn’t endure the cobro de piso [demands] anymore,” Damián said, adding that some businesses were threatened by two or more criminal groups.

“In other words, they paid double and, well, they chose to leave, close for good,” he said.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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