Drug Cartel Provides Storm Relief, Helps Image
It looks like Mexico's gangsters are trying to improve their image.
In a YouTube video that Mexico media say was created by the Gulf Cartel, there are photos and footage of shiny pickup trucks full of food and bottled water delivering to a crowd of people standing in the mud and rain. Large white letters on the video screen say, in Spanish, "(the drug lords) are good people in good times and bad. They help because they have heart and because the government can't."
The Gulf Cartel controls much of northeastern Mexico where the town of Aldama in Tamaulipas state is located. Aldama was pummeled by Hurricane Ingrid.
This isn't the first time the cartel has tried to get positive publicity. They've also given away toys and hung banners in attempts to persuade locals that they are the "good bad guys."
Eje Central newspaper columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio wrote in a recent column the storm damage has left Peña Nieto administration paralyzed, with 115 people dead, 58,000 homeless, thousands of head of cattle killed and more than a million acres of cropland destroyed. He said gangs like the Gulf Cartel stand to win by offering aid to communities and winning their affection.
"The federal forces don't have the human capacity to rescue and evacuate so many communities simultaneously," Riva Palacio wrote in Spanish. "The cartels, on the other hand, operate surgically with their potential clients. The criminals will benefit..."
The storms that hit Mexico are came at the same time the southwestern U.S. was hit by catastrophic rains and flooding.
Mexican immigrants living in the United States have also been hit hard by recent heavy storms in Colorado. Many, who work in the local meat packing plants or dairy farms, have lost homes and cars. Instead of drug cartels helping them out, they are relying on local nonprofits because they don't qualify for federal assistance.