Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
- Community Blog
Billionaire Slim to Invest in Violent Acapulco
Carlos Slim, who is considered by most to be the world's richest man, recently stated he will help revive cartel plagued Acapulco. Slim is a Mexican billionaire who owns multiple telecommunication businesses among other diversified projects. He recently passed Bill Gates on most lists of wealthiest persons.
Slim hopes to raise money and build new hotels, as well as update the local transportation and business district. Acapulco has seen a drastic drop in tourism as rival cartels riddle the area with violence. The state of Guerrero had a total of 1,538 murders between January and September 2011, official figures show.
Acapulco has been host to almost every cartel in Mexico in the last few years. The port is a vital tool for cocaine and methamphetamine precursors that are imported into Mexico. Local cartels have tried to hold power but have been under pressure by outside forces.
Acapulco officials claim the city has overcame its crime problems, yet many believe it is mere marketing. Last year Acapulco was the #4 most dangerous city in the world by murder rate, according to The Citizen Council for Public Safety and Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal). It was listed as the 2nd most dangerous city in Mexico behind Ciudad Juarez.
I visited Acapulco in 2007 soon after the violence kicked off. Beaches were almost empty and foreign tourists were non-existent. A month before my visit human heads were rolled onto a dance floor to warn the local gangs that a new cartel was in town.
Mexican tourists still visited the city at that point, but in recent years local tourism has died. Acapulco was a popular holiday retreat for Mexico City citizens in recent decades. The city of 900,000 had its hay-day in the 1950's as a tropical getaway for United States celebrities.
Acapulco will be in for a long ride if it plans to rid itself of cartel violence and turn back to its touristy days. The geographic importance of the port is too great for wealthy cartels to give up without a fight.