The federal government will bolster security in Guerrero as part of a new support plan for the southern state.
Presenting the plan in Chilpancingo on Sunday, President López Obrador said his government is committed to guaranteeing peace and tranquility in Guerrero, Mexico’s ninth most violent state, which recorded 1,020 homicides in the first nine months of 2021.
An additional 700 soldiers and National Guard members will be deployed across the municipalities of Chilpancingo, Acapulco and Iguala, said Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval. The deployment will increase the number of federal troops in the state to approximately 10,700.
Cresencio also said that almost 16,000 federal security force members stationed in states that border Guerrero can be used to reinforce security in the southern state if required. The army chief said that a strengthening of the federal government’s law enforcement presence in mid-August resulted in a 46% decline in organized crime-related homicides in Iguala and a 33% reduction in Chilpancingo.
However, homicides only fell 6% in Acapulco, Cresencio acknowledged, pointing out that the monthly average of murders had fallen from 69 to 65. “So the [security] strategy … will be strengthened in that municipality,” he said.
The defense minister also acknowledged that the cultivation of marijuana and opium poppies remains a significant problem in Guerrero. Navy Minister Rafael Ojeda noted that some 2,800 marines are stationed in Zihuatanejo and Acapulco, adding that the navy will increase its intelligence capacity so it can offer additional support to Guerrero security authorities.
For his part, López Obrador highlighted that the state will have 24 National Guard barracks by the time he leaves office in 2024.
“This will help a lot … to protect the people,” he said.
Inaugurated in mid-2019, the National Guard already has four barracks in Guerrero. Five more are nearing completion, and the government intends to build 15 more over the next three years.
López Obrador said federal social programs will also help reduce insecurity by dissuading people from criminal activities. An additional 10,000 places in the government’s tree-planting employment program will provide an alternative to growing illicit crops, he said.
The president said that just over 1 million Guerrero residents already receive some kind of government financial assistance. The three states that receive the most federal support are Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, he said.
In the Montaña region, which he visited over the weekend, López Obrador said there are three or four welfare beneficiaries per household. “In other words, more support is being allocated to the poorest areas of Guerrero,” he said.
López Obrador also highlighted a range of other ways in which the government is supporting the state.
Among them: the distribution of fertilizer to farmers; the allocation of funds to carry out school improvements; the construction of branches of the state-owned Banco del Bienestar (Bank of Well-Being); and the investment of 2.1 billion pesos (US $103.9 million) to build new roads in the Montaña region;
The president also committed to getting to the bottom of the case of the 43 Ayotzinapa students who disappeared in Iguala in September 2014.
“… We’re going to continue investigating until we find the young men from Ayotzinapa. It’s a matter of the state; it’s not any old case. We’re going to find out the whole truth. It’s a commitment, and commitments are kept,” he said.
“… We’re going to continue supporting the people of Guerrero,” López Obrador added. “I’ll end by congratulating the good, hard-working, brave and intelligent people of Guerrero, who elected a very good governor, an extraordinary governor, Evelyn Salgado.”
Several federal ministers also spoke at the event and made commitments to allocate resources to support sectors such as tourism, health, culture and agriculture.
Salgado, who took office on October 15, didn’t stop smiling as she heard official after official pledging to support her state, the newspaper Reforma reported.
The Morena party governor committed to leading an honest, austere government that will put an end to corruption and impunity and allow the participation of the people in the decisions it makes.
“That’s the way we’re going to work,” she said. “I’m joining the national strategy.”