The fight between the CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel causes a drop in tourism in Chiapas

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The fight between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel has caused a drop in national and foreign visitors during the Easter period in Chiapas. The Guadalupano walkway, which during the holiday season where hundreds of people stroll day and night, today looks lackluster, with little influx in the bars and restaurants, unlike other years, where there is no place to have a glass of wine, beer, or eat.

Due to the lack of diners, restaurant and bar workers invite the few visitors to enter the businesses. “We invite you to the buffet meal for 190 pesos,” announces a young woman, but the inside of the business looks desolate. Andrea, a Tzotzil who sells handicrafts, complains that she has not sold even a hundred pesos in products all day. “There are no sales,” she complains.

Carlos Gallegos, a musician who arrived 30 years ago in San Cristóbal to play in the bars, where local and foreign visitors came, knows how the influx of tourism has evolved over the last three decades. Now he says, alongside the war between the cartels, there is also a dispute for more than two years, between gangs of Tzotzil ethnicity, for spaces in markets, squares, and the sale of narcotics.

The beginning of the Easter period opened with a confrontation in the early hours of Monday, April 25, at the crossroads of the Pan-American Highway and the Ocozocoautla-Las Choapas highway, which resulted in two people dead, one injured, eight vans, two trailers, and a truck burned and shot, and the closure for several hours of those roads.

But since that day, the Pan-American Highway that links San Cristóbal and Comitán, with the border with Guatemala, remains closed, due to a blockade maintained by support bases of a criminal organization, at the height of the Chamic community, in the municipality of Frontera Comalapa.

With the closure of the Pan-American Highway at that point, transit between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Guatemala, a country visited by thousands of tourists who come to Mexico, is broken.

Gallegos recounts that as a consequence of the fall in tourism, at least six businesses have closed between Miguel Utrilla and Benito Juárez streets, within a 200-meter stretch, including restaurants, bars, and businesses selling various products.

The acts of violence that have been recorded in San Cristóbal for more than two years have caused a drop in tourism, as a consequence of the clashes between gang members known as motonetos and the constant roadblocks on the way to Palenque.

In December, service providers felt the drop in visitors but hoped to recover immediately. “In December, we service providers were left waiting like the little Chinese man: the hotels, restaurants, tourist transportation agencies,” he explained.

As a consequence of the war between the two criminal organizations, in November 2023, there were massive cancellations of tourists who had reservations in hotels for the end of the year. “We were very innocent, naive, and optimistic, hoping that from December 24th things would improve, but the 25th, 29th, 30th, and 31st passed and there was nothing,” added Gallegos, who is in charge of a tourist transportation agency on the Real de Guadalupe walkway, with trips to the main tourist destinations and Guatemala.

This Easter, the service provider estimates that there is a tourist influx of 35% in San Cristóbal, as a consequence of the violence generated by the dispute of the criminal organizations.

“The president of the San Cristóbal Hotel Association, Guadalupe Moguel Gómez, who represents 70 of the 170 owners of inns, hostels, and hotels, assures that the hotel occupancy this season is at 40%. ‘We hope that it will increase in the coming days,’ she considers.”

Source: El Universal