Monday, May 20, 2024

Armed civilians stop Sheinbaum convoy in rural Chiapas to share a message

Leading presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum had a disquieting experience while traveling in Chiapas on Sunday: Her vehicle was stopped by hooded and masked men who asked her to combat violence in the southern state if she wins the June 2 election.

The vehicle in which the ruling Morena party candidate was traveling was stopped when entering Motozintla, a municipality that borders Guatemala.

One man — part of an armed group claiming to be to be a kind of local self-defense force — read a message to Sheinbaum, who was seated in the front passenger seat of the vehicle with her window down.

The encounter was filmed and subsequently posted to social media.

“When you’re in power, remember the Sierra,” the man said, referring to mountainous areas of Chiapas.

“Remember the poor people,” he continued, adding that “we’re not against the government” and “we’re not against you.”

@latinus_us Autodefensas de Chiapas interceptan a Claudia Sheinbaum para pedir el cese de los secuestros, extorsiones y asesinatos; “ándele, pues”, responde. #Latinus #InformaciónParaTi #TuElección2024 ♬ original sound – Latinus

The man told Sheinbaum that “we don’t want Motozintla to be another disaster like [Frontera] Comalapa,” a municipality that is part of a region of Chiapas that has long been plagued by a violent turf war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

“We want you, when you are president, to do us the favor of clearing this section [of road] to Comalapa [of criminals] because we can’t get there, if we go there they tear us to shreds,” he said.

“That is our feeling as people. We won’t take any more of your time and thank you very much for stopping,” the man added before shaking Sheinbaum’s hand.

Another masked man said there was a feeling of “helplessness” among citizens and asserted that the government “has never done anything for these lands.”

Sheinbaum remained calm throughout the minute-long encounter and thanked the men before continuing on her way. She later held a campaign event in Motozintla before traveling to Tapachula to catch a flight.

“Some people who said they were residents stopped us,” she told reporters at the Tapachula airport.

Sheinbaum said she didn’t believe the hooded and masked men are involved in drug trafficking, although Motozintla residents reportedly identified them as members of the Sinaloa Cartel. She also said she didn’t feel intimidated.

Sheinbaum speaks to a crowd
The incident occurred before a campaign event in Motozintla, Chiapas. (Claudia Sheinbaum/Facebook)

“… What caught my attention the most was that … [reporters] from Latinus were there,” the Morena candidate said, referring to the Latinus media outlet.

Sheinbaum stopped short of saying the encounter was a media stunt, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) asserted Monday that it is “very probable” that it was.

“Because of the experience we have, when these things happen we know that it is very probable that it’s propaganda because he who [usually] goes to make a proposal [to a politician or candidate] isn’t masked or filming,” AMLO said.

“… It’s very probable that it [was] a montaje,” he said, using a word that can mean setup or stunt.

“It’s very probable because [they were] masked. If someone has a complaint, why would they put a hood on?” he said.

López Obrador noted that Carlos Loret de Mola works for Latinus and “he is against us.”

The president is a frequent and ardent critic of Loret de Mola, a high-profile journalist who worked on the broadcast of a well-known montaje in 2005.

“Look at that microphone,” he said, referring to one visible during Sheinbaum’s encounter with the hooded and masked men.

“It’s Latinus. How did it know? And where were the rest of the journalists? … I don’t trust Latinus, they’re capable of that and more — they’re experts in montajes. And they don’t have moral scruples of any kind and they’re corrupt,” AMLO said.

Mexican President López Obrador
President López Obrador characterized the incident as a press stunt on Monday morning. (LopezObrador.org.mx)

López Obrador said that the incident with Sheinbaum on Sunday would be investigated, but added that he didn’t believe it was “something serious.”

AMLO asserted that those opposed to the government and Morena — who he referred to as “the corrupt conservatives” — are trying to inflict damage in the lead-up to the June 2 elections with “sensationalism” and “propaganda.”

The ‘narco-president’ thing didn’t work. … They were betting on the drought, that it wasn’t going to rain but it rained yesterday. … They’re betting on violence, they’re going around like vultures [trying to find something to hurt the government], but fortunately nothing is working,” he said.

Most polls indicate that Sheinbaum has a commanding lead in the presidential contest in which her main rival is opposition bloc candidate Xóchitl Gálvez.

Morena and its allies are  expected to win a majority in Congress, although it appears unlikely they will get enough votes to reach a two-thirds majority that would allow them to approve constitutional reforms without the support of other parties.

With reports from El Financiero, El Universal, Reforma and Milenio

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