Friday, March 1, 2024

New security force, centerpiece of anti-crime strategy, goes operational today

The first unit of the National Guard will begin operations today in Minatitlán, Veracruz, President López Obrador announced this morning.

The president reminded reporters at his daily press conference that National Guard units will eventually be deployed to 266 different regions in the country.

“We’re starting in Veracruz . . . the first [unit] that has been established with a sufficient number of elements, with a single command, will be in Minatitlán,” he said.

Other contingents of the new security force will begin operations in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, this weekend and by the middle of June, 51 units are expected to have been deployed.

“We reached an agreement that by the middle of June at the latest we’ll have 51 coordinations of the National Guard in operation . . . with 25,000 elements,” López Obrador said.

He cited the south of Veracruz, Cancún, Quintana Roo and Tijuana, Baja California, as locations where the force is urgently needed.

Accompanied by members of his security cabinet, the president traveled today to Minatitlán, where 14 people were killed last Friday during a family celebration at a bar.

López Obrador said this morning he would take the opportunity to express his condolences to the families of the victims as well as hold a public meeting with the city’s residents.

He explained that the meeting was originally intended as a forum for discussion on the government’s welfare programs but added that the agenda has been widened to include security.

“We’re going to give a response to the demand for security. The security cabinet will accompany me and a plan will be presented to protect the public within the framework of the operation of the National Guard,” López Obrador said.

The Minatitlán Chamber of Commerce said yesterday that 300 businesses closed in the city between 2015 and 2018 due to security concerns and that another 40 have shut this year.

Following last Friday’s attack, which is believed to have been carried out by Los Zetas or the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), it was revealed that just 19 of 202 security cameras in Minatitlán are operational.

Mayor Nicolás Reyes said state authorities are largely to blame because they are responsible for the maintenance of 172 of the 202 cameras, of which only 10 are in working order.

In an interview with Milenio Television, state Public Security Secretary Hugo Gutiérrez shifted that blame to Comtelsat, the company responsible for installing and maintaining the cameras.

He said most of the cameras — not just in Minatitlán but the whole state — had failed and that the situation has “cost lives.”

Just 1,600 of 6,500 cameras are in working order, Gutiérrez said, adding that authorities have filed a complaint against Comtelsat with the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR).

As part of the investigations into Friday’s massacre, the secretary said that authorities have had to seek out footage recorded by cameras at homes and business to try to determine the route the perpetrators took to and from the crime scene.

“If our cameras were working, locating those people would be easier,” Gutiérrez said.

“. . . Because of this great fraud, lives have now been lost.”

Source: Notimex (sp), Milenio (sp), El Sol de México (sp) 

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