“Human rights are for humans who do right” became the catchphrase of Tijuana’s mayor, Juan Manuel “El Patas” (The Feet) Gastélum Buenrostro, referring to the caravan of migrants. The news anchor for Univision, Jorge Ramos, grilled Mayor “El Patas” about his xenophobic expression in a six-minute interview. The Mexican Anderson Cooper asked the mayor about comparison of him with Donald Trump. The mayor shrugged and told a story about how a little girl gave him a red hat. Without noticing that the hat said Make Tijuana Great Again, the mayor simply put it on and carried on.
Lately, the news in Tijuana is dominated by the caravan. If you use Google, it yields completely different results, mostly the daily homicides. The caravan draws the most attention, but it is just one of many problems the mayor faces.
The number of homicides in Tijuana keeps a steady beat and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. 2018 wraps up as the deadliest year ever, beating 2017 – over 2,500 murders (an average of seven per day). July was the bloodiest with 251 murders and a dramatic story of a madman with a shotgun.
The total count of homicides since Mayor “Patas” took office surpasses 4,000. Tijuana’s morgue, known by its initials SEMEFO, has been over capacity since the beginning of the year and not much has been done to fix it. The most recent news is workers of the morgue will go on strike because they haven’t been paid.
The whole neighborhood of Lomas del Rubí collapsed back in March, and the hill is still in shambles. Traffic keeps increasing throughout the city. The newest bus system, called “SITT,” instead of alleviating traffic, it made it worse by taking special lanes in heavily congested areas.
In spite of or because of the mounting problems, it was discovered by Zeta News and AFN Noticias that the mayor spent two and a half million pesos on his social media image (roughly $125,000). According to Zeta, in their extensive report, the agency hired to do the work is named “Mexikna” and was created just a few months ago in a contract filled with inconsistencies, inaccuracies, conflict of interests, and possible crimes of stealing public funds.
Here’s the kicker, the owner of Mexikna is Daian Mercedes Gutiérrez, a young ex-employee of the mayor, and Grecia Gutiérrez, another collaborator with the city. However, the director and representative of Mexikna is none other than the mayor’s son, Juan Manuel Gastelúm Rivera, “El Patitas” (Little Feet).
The link between the company and the mayor’s son was confirmed on October 27, 2018, when Mexikna won five awards by Reed Latino, an award ceremony dedicated to political marketing. The son’s mayor, accompanied by the mayor's secretary, took the stage to receive the awards.
The office of Mexikna is situated inside Torre Trez, catty corner from Hotel Lucerna. When Zeta reporters visited the building, they found it completely empty. Mexikna has no proper website, just a YouTube channel filled with short clips with overdramatic music, inspirational quotes about the city and the mayor.
When the news dropped, Daian disappeared from all social media. Daian had thousands of Instagram followers as an alt-model (I used to be one of them). The mayor denies any wrongdoing when confronted by the press. Mayor “Patas” has one more year in office and has flirted with the idea of running for re-election.