Mayor of Mazatlán reassures tourists after gang violence

MAZATLAN, Mexico –

The mayor of a Mexican city caught up in a wave of drug cartel violence last week wasted little time reassuring Canadians and other foreign visitors that his city was safe. traveler.

Edgar Gonzalez, in a video posted online by the City of Mazatlán, strolled through the city’s historic center on Friday, shaking hands and taking photos with tourists.

“It is these tourists, who have practically settled in Mazatlán, so confident, so calm, we find them in the historic center comfortable, calm, no problems, no worries, they’re in the restaurant, on the street, in the gallery, on the boardwalk, everywhere in total comfort, quiet,” Gonzalez said in a press release that was translated and posted to Facebook by an organization. tourism in the area.

Several Canadian tourists in northwestern Mexico were forced to stay in their hotels for several days after the arrest of a major drug cartel leader led to violence in the area.

Some described the area as “returning to normal” over the weekend, while others said the atmosphere of insecurity continued.

Some airports that were closed due to the violence reopened on Saturday and flights have resumed from Mazatlán to cities in Western Canada including Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Global Affairs Sunday continued to advise Canadians traveling in Sinaloa, the state where Mazatlán is located, to avoid non-essential travel “due to high levels of violence and organized crime”, but Mazatlán himself waived that warning.

Gonzalez notes that many tourists who visit the city will return to live there, and that they themselves defend and promote that Mazatlán is peaceful and should be visited.

Gonzalez said in the news release: “I am very peaceful and happy to see everyone on the street.

Alyssa Johnson of Onward and Outward Travel in Edmonton says customers don’t seem to be deterred by reports of violence.

“I think it’s pretty isolated in an area,” says Johnson, noting that she just booked a trip to the Cancun area.

Mazatlán also posted a press release noting that business associations have stepped up help for travelers whose flights out of the area have been delayed due to events, offering some hotel rooms and free meals. .

Priority is given to low-income tourists, the elderly and people with disabilities, the statement said.

The violence follows the arrest of alleged drug dealer Ovidio (The Mouse) Guzman, the son of former gang boss Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman.

The Canadian government issued a shelter-in-place advisory on Thursday, saying widespread violence included car fires, fire exchanges and threats to essential infrastructure, including airport.

People who posted to a social media group for expats in Mexico said the violence was limited to isolated areas and that they felt the advice was just a precaution.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 8, 2023.


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