Dozens of businesses near the Caballo Blanco nightclub in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz — the site of a massacre on Tuesday — have closed in recent years due to extortion.
More than 40 businesses located on a 10-block stretch of Juan Escutia street in the Benito Juárez Norte neighborhood have shut down after being forced to make protection payments to criminal groups in the area over the past few years. Many of those were bars.
Antonia, a 66-year-old small business owner who spoke with the newspaper El Universal, says that extortion has become worse over the past five years. She said she likes to go to casinos with her husband but that after the attack on the Caballo Blanco they have stopped going out because they are afraid of similar attacks.
“Three years ago, we weren’t victims of extortion,” she said. “Coatzacoalcos became a dangerous place to live. People with money go to Puebla or Mérida, but the rest of us stay here, we don’t have anywhere to go.”
Most of the businesses that have been closed are located in commercial neighborhoods like Benito Juárez Norte or along the oceanfront.
According to state police, six business premises have been set on fire in Coatzacoalcos since May 28.
A business group said around 5,000 businesses have closed due to extortion in recent years.
The number of deaths from Tuesday’s attack rose to 30 on Saturday after another victim died in hospital.
Source: El Universal (sp)