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Leaving or staying in Fresnillo, the most dangerous city in Mexico according to its residents

"And why am I going away, since it's the same everywhere in the whole country? They're killing you," says resignedly" Juan Pablo Rodríguez, 18 years old, met &agrav; after dark Fresnillo, a city in northern Mexico gripped by violence.

The young man tidies up the fast food stand that his family runs in the center of this city of 230,000 inhabitants where 96% of the population fears being victims of delinquency, according to a government survey. A national record.

It is here that the opposition candidate, Xochitl Galvez, launched her campaign for the presidential election on the night of Thursday to Friday of June 2.

Surrounded by relatives of missing people, Ms. Galvez observed a minute of silence, denouncing the “indifference” of her left-wing rival Claudia Sheinbaum faced with the suffering of the victims.

Even the visit of the candidate under high security does not reassure Juan Pablo at nightfall: “We must go “.

Fresnillo, 240,000 inhabitants, is located in the state of Zacatecas, on a route disputed by the two main Mexican cartels, Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

This region, known for its emblematic colonial cities (Zacatecas, Jerez) is a stronghold of the ruling Morena party and a family, the Monreals, who control several official positions.

In 2023, 978 homicides were recorded in this state. Even the Monreal dynasty, close to President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, is not immune to violence: two of its members were assassinated this year.

Thousands of people have left their homes in recent years, transforming some localities into ghost villages.

– “Fear is here” –

A few steps from the Galvez night gathering, a taxi driver smilingly explains how to get to the center, but his face closes when he learns that his passengers are journalists.

“The fear is here. Last week, they kidnapped two colleagues (taxi drivers) and we know nothing about them,” says this 52-year-old man in a low voice, who agrees to speak to AFP undercover. of anonymity.

One of his nephews died last year in a shooting, and one of his cousins ​​and his family were kidnapped, says he whispered, looking around him. “They went to the United States, where they obtained asylum.”

Violence in Fresnillo appeared 15 years ago, with a clear recent resurgence . “I don't know if with other presidents there was more control but with this one (…) the criminals do what they want without anyone telling them anything,” said the driver. taxi who declares himself a supporter of Xochitl Galvez.

He plans to leave the city before the June 2 elections. “I’m saving to go to the United States or Canada,” explains the man who wants to shelter his 15-year-old daughter. “Imagine that the criminals took it away!”.

Under the pretext of an increase in asylum requests, Canada has just announced that it will again require visas for Mexicans.

Originally from the center of the country, Inocencia Hernandez found a job as a florist in Fresnillo during the pandemic.

“It's the same thing throughout the country, no matter what state you live in. In Puebla, which seems quiet, there is also a lot of crime,” says the 30-year-old woman.

– Prosperity and violence –

Leaving or staying in Fresnillo, the most dangerous city in Mexico according to its residents


Mexico has recorded 449,000 homicides and more than 100,000 disappearances since former President Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) launched a military operation against the cartels in December 2006.

But 38% of assassinations occurred during the current mandate of President Lopez Obrador, which began in December 2018.

The president maintains his position yet has a popularity rating of nearly 70% and his party's candidate Claudia Sheinbaum is the clear favorite.

The day is dawning on Fresnillo. Galvez, an engineer of indigenous origin, leaves the city to go to the neighboring state of Guanajuato.

This prosperous industrial state, home to General Motors factories and Honda, is the most violent in Mexico with 3,100 assassinations in 2023, according to official figures.

In Guanajuato, violence is fueled by the struggle for control of fuel trafficking and extortion of traders.

Last December, unknown persons opened fire during a party bringing together around a hundred young people. Toll: 11 dead.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116