A call for prayers and a plea for peace have followed an astronomical rise in the homicide rate in the Tamaulipas capital of Ciudad Victoria.
After two families were massacred last week, the Twitter hashtag #prayforcdvictoria began trending in Mexico. Then last Tuesday, the employers’ federation Coparmex sent a message to the warring crime gangs that have been blamed for the violence:
“The only thing we ask is that you let us work, that you allow us to develop,” said Fidel Gallardo, president of the local branch of the organization, referring to “the activity of certain criminal groups.”
As of last Thursday, the prayers and the pleas had not been answered: members of a third family were executed bringing the death toll to 19 for all three families. Eight of the dead were minors, one of whom was a two-month-old baby while another was a disabled child. She died after being struck by 20 bullets.
But while Ciudad Victoria may sound like a war zone it is not, says municipal secretary Rafael Rodríguez Salazar. While acknowledging that the incidents have been violent and deplorable, he said they have taken place at specific locations in the city.
“It’s not that the violence is happening in all the streets and that people are being killed on all sides throughout the city, generating an atmosphere of war. It is not like that.”
But Rodríguez said, too, that life had changed in Ciudad Victoria. “We are all conscious that we no longer live in the same tranquil city of six, seven, eight, 10 years ago and more.”
Citizens must now take precautions that were unnecessary before such as avoiding going out late at night and being vigilant whenever leaving the home.
Residents have become accustomed to using their mobile phones to check social networks for information regarding danger areas, warnings that follow the appearance of groups of armed men or convoys of trucks carrying sicarios, or hitmen.
The city was in 90th place last year for the number of intentional homicides with firearms. It is now in sixth place, with 81 executions having taken place so far this year.
According to Coparmex, Ciudad Victoria is now in first place for kidnappings.
Last Friday, the federal government announced the deployment of 600 soldiers “to confront crime head-on and restore peace and security to local families,” said state Government Secretary Herminio Garza Palacios.
The troops will be fighting the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, which are at war for control of the territory.
Source: Milenio (sp)