Friday, June 14, 2024

Security main focus of Guanajuato mayor whose candidate husband was killed

Security will be the main focus for a new mayor in Guanajuato who took over her husband’s candidacy after he was killed during the election campaign.

“The priority, number one, is peace and tranquility for the people of Apaseo el Alto because that’s what the citizens demand,” María del Carmen Ortiz said in an interview.

The mayor-elect’s husband, José Remedios Aguirre — candidate for the Morena Party-led coalition that swept president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador to power — was shot dead while campaigning in the city’s Ecological Park on May 11.

Just two days later, Ortiz decided to step in to take his place in the mayoral race and made security for Apaseo el Alto — one of the state’s most violent municipalities — her main campaign promise.

The 32-year-old mother of three and her transition team are currently planning the security strategy that the next municipal government will adopt. She told the newspaper Milenio that she is determined to fulfill the promises she made on the campaign trail.

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“I’m going to respond to the people who elected us. I’m not going to jump ship. I am going to show that as a woman I can achieve . . . big things and make a social impact. I want to leave my mark on Apaseo,” Ortiz said.

Combating petroleum pipeline theft — a major source of violence in the state due to clashes between gangs of thieves known as huachicoleros — and creating employment opportunities for widowed women will be key priorities for her administration, she said.

The mayor-elect is convinced that the murder of her husband was politically motivated. She said he had double the support of his nearest rival but neither he nor her family had received any prior threats.

Ortiz said that she used the fear she felt after her husband’s death as political motivation.

“At the start, I felt afraid but I’ve always said that there are two types of fear, one that paralyzes you and one that keeps you active and I took the fear and used it as strength, as courage to carry out this project,” she said.

The task in front of her cannot be underestimated.

Violent crime has spiked sharply in Guanajuato this year, with the number of intentional homicides in the state in the first six months of the year exceeding the total for all of last year, according to the National Public Security System.

In total, there were 1,203 murders in Guanajuato in the first half of the year, making it Mexico’s second most violent state after Baja California, while it ranked third in the first four months of 2018 for the number of illegal taps on state-owned petroleum pipelines.

Pemex pipelines from the refinery in Salamanca run through Apaseo el Alto, where members of the local business community say that rival gangs fighting for control of the “plaza” are behind the high levels of crime that have in turn caused a downturn in the local economy.

“It’s important that the state government together with the federal and municipal governments come to an agreement. The problem here are the Pemex pipelines that pass through [the municipality].

“When there is better control in that sense, I believe that crime will go down because that’s one of the factors why they’re fighting for the region,” said Álvaro Mendoza, owner of a local transport company.

“She [mayor-elect María del Carmen Ortiz] said . . . that security was going to be the main priority, hopefully she fulfills [her promise].”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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