MEXICO CITY – Business leaders in the northern Mexican border city of Matamoros are urging President Felipe Calderon to declare a truce in his all-out battle with drug cartels, a conflict that has claimed some 30,000 lives in the past four years.
It it urgent to modify the strategy against organized crime, the vice president of the Federation of National Chambers of Commerce, Julio Almanza, said Monday.
We’re asking (Calderon) for a truce and for him to exchange war helicopters for tractors to make the countryside more productive, to exchange the machinesguns for loans for businesses, to exchange each exploded grenade for a job, he said.
Matamoros, located just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, is part of Tamaulipas state, where hundreds have died this year as the rival Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels have battled each other and the security forces.
Almanza said that if the federal government continues to remain obstinate on turning city streets into “battlefields” and does not take account that its strategy “has failed,” the risk exists that in more communities the situation of Ciudad Mier, Tamaulipas, might be repeated, where that community has become a ghost town because of the exodus of its frightened citizens.
The business leader said that the federal government must focus its support on businessmen with greater incentives, on supporting the maquiladora industry, foreign trade, giving confidence to tourism, working in strategic sectors like health, employment and education and leaving weapons and war to the side for the sake of peace and productivity.
Almanza said that Tamaulipas Governor-elect Egidio Torre and the incoming mayor of Matamoros, Alfonso Sanchez, must push this truce that the government is being asked for “since both, as respected businessmen, know, have experienced and are aware of the problems the private sector and society in general are facing.”
The violence besetting Tamaulipas has caused many businessmen to flee the area along with their capital for neighboring Texas, where they have invested some $16 million in business activity.