MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government sent 25,000 troops to Acapulco after the resort was hit by Hurricane Otis on Oct. 25, but apparently that hasn’t stopped the violence this week.
The main Acapulco business chamber reported that gang threats and attacks have caused about 90% of the city’s passenger vans to stop running, affecting the resort’s main form of transport. The chamber said the violence was forcing businesses to close early on Thursday and Friday.
“Organized groups of people who have no conscience or commitment to Acapulco have committed criminal acts in broad daylight, threatening civilians with direct armed attacks, and this caused 90% of public transportation to shut down,” wrote Alejandro Martínez Sidney, president of the National Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Services in Acapulco.
“If this situation continues, we will be forced to close businesses,” he wrote in a statement Thursday. The problem continued into Friday, with few vans or buses seen in the streets.
Martínez Sidney was apparently referring to attacks on the privately-own and operate passenger vans in recent days. Local media reported that at least three vans had been burned, a practice that gangs often use to enforce extortion demands for daily protection payments from van drivers.
The Category 5 hurricane killed 52 people and left 32 missing, and severely damaged almost all of the resort’s hotels.
The government has pledged to build about three dozen barracks for the quasi-military National Guard in Acapulco. But even with throngs of troops now on the streets, the drug gang violence that has beset Acapulco for almost two decades appears to have continued.
Acapulco’s economy depends almost completely on tourism, and there are comparitively few visitors in the city, in part because only about 4,500 hotel rooms have been repaired, a small fraction of the tens of thousands the city once had.
Moreover, since the government has also sent about 3,000 federal employees to help in the rebuilding and repair efforts, they occupy many of the hotel rooms.
Violence isn’t new to the once-glamorous resort, and even in the first hours after the hurricane hit, almost every large store in the city was ransacked, while police and soldiers stood by.