Sunday, February 25, 2024

National Guard deployed to reinforce security at tourist destinations

The National Guard will be deployed to reinforce security at Mexico’s tourist destinations during Holy Week (Semana Santa), the week leading into Easter Sunday. 

According to Minister of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval, 8,624 National Guard (GN) troops will be deployed to protect tourists in the country’s most popular travel destinations, as well as the nation’s highways, as part of this year’s Holy Week security operations.

Guardia Nacional members and a police officer patrolling a shoreline in April 2023.
Members of the National Guard patrol the boardwalk in Tulum. (@GN_MEXICO_/Twitter)

During a press conference on Tuesday, Sandoval said that security forces will be deployed until April 16, with 4,824 troops protecting tourist hotspots and another 3,800 patrolling federal highways. The GN will also reinforce security at 14 airports. 

“We have deployment in Mazatlán, Vallarta, Acapulco, Tulum, Cancún and Veracruz — these will be the main areas that they will be serving,” Sandoval said. 

To support security operations, the GN will be provided with six helicopters, 755 radio patrol cars, 377 trucks and 55 ATVs and boats.

The deployment follows recent shootings in Cancún and Acapulco, which left a total of six people dead. On Monday, the day marking the start of the Easter vacation, four people were killed in Cancún’s hotel zone and two were shot in Acapulco. 

A GN truck enters a hotel in Cancun
3 people died after shootings in Cancún earlier this week.(Elizaberth Ruiz/Cuartoscuro)

“These unfortunate events, in addition to opposing respect for the rule of law, are of the greatest concern to maintain an environment of trust and certainty for the social and economic life of both destinations,” the National Tourism Business Council (CNET) said, requesting that authorities take measures to safeguard the country’s tourist sites. 

“With the current resources, it has not been possible to reduce crime rates.” 

CNET emphasized the impact that insecurity has on the country’s tourism sector, negatively affecting investments and job creation. 

“We need to ensure that the country’s tourist destinations are spaces of personal, property and social security, both for the local population and for international and national tourists,” the organization stressed, “The country and tourist destinations should not and cannot continue to live in an environment of violence and insecurity.” 

According to data from the Tourism Ministry, Cancún International Airport is the second busiest airport in the country, seeing 1.4 million tourists in January alone. Acapulco International Airport recorded 41,525 air passengers in the same month, nearly double the number registered in January 2022. 

Foreign direct investment in Mexico’s tourist sector reached record levels in 2022. 

National Guard of Mexico arriving in Acapulco to provide security
The government organized a similar operation last year for Holy Week. Here, residents take photos as soldiers arrive for a Holy Week security deployment in Acapulco in 2022. (Carlos Alberto Carbajal/Cuartoscuro)

GN troops will be deployed in the following cities: 

  • Cancún, Quintana Roo: 1,225.
  • Veracruz, Veracruz: 1,068.
  • Tulum, Quintana Roo: 225.
  • Acapulco, Guerrero: 933.
  • Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco: 712.
  • Mazatlán, Sinaloa: 661

With reports by Reforma, Expansión Política and La Jornada

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