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Firefighters extinguish a blaze in a public transit vehicle in Zihuatanejo Firefighters extinguish a blaze in a public transit vehicle in Zihuatanejo in May.

Threats by organized crime force suspension of transit in Zihuatanejo again

One driver said the climate of insecurity is unsustainable and unbearable

Many taxis and public transit vans suspended service in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, on Monday due to violence against drivers and threats made by organized crime.

It was the second time in a month that transport services were interrupted by criminal activity in the Pacific coast resort city. Extortion-related threats began again last Wednesday, according to transit operators who spoke with the newspaper El Sur.

“We’re living in a climate of insecurity that is now unsustainable and unbearable,” said one driver. “But as we’re not in a political campaign the government does nothing.”

El Sur reported that there was no service on several routes on Monday, including those to San José Ixtapa, Barrio Nuevo and Pantla. No date has been set for the resumption of service, the newspaper said.

Only one of three routes that passes through the hotel zone of Ixtapa was operational on Monday, El Sur added. That made it difficult for some hotel employees to get to work. The number of vans serving several other parts of Zihuatanejo was also much lower than normal.

The Dos Costas transport company closed its downtown terminal given that it suspended its services to the neighboring municipalities of La Unión and Petatlán, and to Vallecitos de Zaragoza in the Zihuatanejo Sierra. Drivers employed by that company said they didn’t know when they would return to work.

They told El Sur that the owners didn’t want to run the risk of having their vehicles set on fire by criminals. “We already saw that they do follow through on threats,” one driver said.

A van was stopped and torched while operating in central Zihuatanejo on the El Coacoyoul-Airport route last Saturday, while there have even been cases in which transit drivers were murdered.

Several transport providers told El Sur they couldn’t offer services due to the lack of security in Zihuatanejo. They explained that their insurance policies didn’t cover acts of vandalism, meaning they stand to incur heavy losses if their vehicles are targeted.

Transport operators criticized authorities of all three levels of government for failing to stop the extortion demands and threats made by criminal groups. A protest outside the municipal government headquarters was planned for Tuesday, but no one showed up, El Sur reported. An unconfirmed reason for the cancelation was that Mayor Jorge Sánchez Allec warned transit operators not to protest.

In addition to public transit vehicles, criminals have also targeted Zihuatanejo businesses such as tortilla shops and beer stores, apparently because their owners failed to comply with extortion demands.

With reports from El Sur and El Universal 

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