El Chapo is hailed as a modern “Robin Hood” in Mexico

People in his homes state of Sinaloa lament his conviction; the President visited his hometown after his trial ended

El Chapo is hailed as a modern “Robin Hood” in Mexico
El Chapo during his U.S. trial - Photo: Jane Rosenberg/EFE
English 18/02/2019 14:21 Reuters y redacción Mexico City Jesus Bustamante, Diego Oré, Roberto Ramírez, Daniel Becerril Actualizada 11:33
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News of the conviction of Mexico’s legendary drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán traveled quickly and people on his home state, Sinaloa, where people said they were saddened for his conviction, and some even described him as a fallen hero and community benefactor.

“Trafficking drugs will continue,” said Gildardo Velázquez in Culiacán. “Nobody can stop it. Even now that they’ll give him the life sentence they think he deserves, it’s not going to change anything here.”

Some others expressed sadness at the news of Guzmán’s conviction in a far-away New York federal courtroom.

“The truth is this hurts,” said a gray-haired man wearing a baseball cap, who described himself as a native of Badiraguato, Guzmán’s hometown.

“We know that he’s helped a lot of people, building roads, schools, churches. People here will suffer now due to lack of support.”

Despite the bloody details that emerged from the 11-week trial, with testimony from over 50 witnesses, many locals continued to laud him as a modern-day Robin Hood, overlooking the murders and violence he left behind.

Others expressed fear that lawlessness across Mexico may grow as former rivals fight over the spoils in the aftermath of Guzmán’s conviction on all 10 counts brought by U.S. prosecutors.

“I think it might be counterproductive,” said Carlos, a young man. “There are more people that want everything that El Chapo controlled.”

Then, days after El Chapo's conviction, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited his birthplace, calling for peace and reconciliation days after a U.S. jury convicted the kingpin.

Speaking to a crowd in Badiraguato, a mountainous municipality in the state of Sinaloa, which has been associated with cartels, López Obrador said people must not be “stigmatized.”

“(The people of) Badiraguato are good people, they are hardworking people,” he told a cheering crowd in a public square. “We must seek reconciliation, we must find peace.”

With a population of 32,000, Badiraguato is one of the poorest municipalities in the state of Sinaloa and the country, according to Mexican statistics agency Inegi.

López Obrador, who has spoken of the need to fight poverty across Mexico, announced a development plan for Badiraguato that included a new highway, a public university and a program to plant trees.

“Until now, I’ve never seen a President come here,” said Javier de la Rocha, a 41-year-old farmer.

El Chapo is not the only drug lord who calls it home as Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, both former leaders of the Guadalajara cartel, were also born nearby.

In a district where 70% of residents live below the poverty line, the capos emerged as unlikely benefactors, building roads and buildings, locals say.

That may explain why some found López Obrador’s visit so significant. With the drug lord behind bars, and facing a life sentence, Badiraguato will need a new champion.

“Mr. Guzmán helped the town a lot. Now that he is not here, let’s hope the state responds,” said José Carrillo, a 61-year-old day laborer.

Several residents said they were cautiously optimistic about López Obrador’s plans and eager to work on the projects.

“With the university, my family is no longer going to have to travel to study elsewhere,” said de la Rocha, a farmer.

Univisión network released an interview with Guzmán's mother, Consuelo Loera. The woman says she “wants to see her son.”

“My request is that they allow me to see him and that they transfer him here, to Mexico,” said the woman, who lives in Badiraguato.

Consuelo Loera says she has even considered reaching out to President López Obrador and ask him to extradite Guzmán Loera back to Mexico.

The woman also said that “I hope God helps him to leave that place (prison).”

Univisión claims that one of their lawyers and his mother tried to deliver a letter to the President, so her son is transferred back to Mexico; nevertheless, it's unknown if the President received the letter.

Guzmán cemented his status as a criminal sensation by breaking out of prison twice, first in 2001 and again in 2015. He was recaptured in early 2016, and a year later was extradited to the United States to face trial.

JoaquínEl ChapoGuzmán, the notorious Mexican drug lord, who was found guilty of running a murderous criminal organization that smuggled tons of drugs into the United States, was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison by a U.S. judge.


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