Astudillo replies to damning newspaper article. Astudillo replies to damning newspaper article.

Post story ‘intended to discredit tourism’

Guerrero governor responds to story calling Acapulco 'Mexico's murder capital'

The governor of Guerrero and a high-ranking official in Acapulco have hit back at a damning report in a leading United States newspaper.

Governor Héctor Astudillo charges that a story in the Washington Post that describes Acapulco as Mexico’s murder capital is part of a media campaign to discredit tourist destinations in the country.

The governor said the strategy was designed to dissuade people from visiting Acapulco and other Mexican tourist destinations and to maintain domestic visitor numbers in Miami, Texas and New York.

He also pointed to the updated travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State which warns about dangers in Guerrero among other states as further evidence of a concerted effort to target Mexico’s tourism industry.

Astudillo recognized that there was a security problem in Acapulco but said that authorities are working to combat it. He also echoed speculation by the federal tourism secretary, saying he thinks that the strategy to discredit Mexico is a U.S. ploy to gain the upper hand in the current trade negotiations.

Astudillo’s views are shared by the secretary general of Acapulco’s municipal government.

“I don’t know where this kind of alert comes from or what it’s about. We don’t know if there are other interests, there is the free trade agreement, the wall, we don’t know what this is due to,” Daniel Meza told reporters.

In response to the Washington Post story, Meza said that if someone is determined to insult a city or a person, one way or another, they will do it.

He also said there are cities in the U.S. with higher crime rates than Acapulco and that a downturn in Mexican visitors to the U.S. might be a factor in its posturing.

“. . . I don’t know if it’s the fact that a lot of Mexicans no longer visit the United States . . . and what they want is to prevent people from coming to Acapulco so that resources flow into the interior of the country . . . .”

He also said that authorities are attacking organized crime and crime in general head-on, emphasizing that there wasn’t a single criminal case related to tourists over the recent summer vacation period. Security for visitors is guaranteed, he asserted.

Hotel occupancy levels were high and there was a beneficial spillover effect to the local economy, Meza said.

“They criticize us and point out that Acapulco is violent [but] we didn’t have the tourism that we have now. People believe in Acapulco and by arriving here they show it . . . .”

The Post story described the city as “a place awash in crime of all stripes, where criminals no longer have to hide.”

Source: Milenio (sp), El Sur (sp)

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