MEXICO CITY – At least 25 people were killed in an attack on a bar in Veracruz, Mexico, as attackers apparently barred the doors and exits of the beloved White Horse Nightclub and then the building on fire.
The attack occurred in a year of record violence for Mexico, which killed 14,603 people between January and June. The Mexican government under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made an effort to develop an effective security strategy, despite the fact that criminal organizations broke new ground, killing members of rival groups and civilians.
On Wednesday morning, López Obrador condemned the attack and suggested that the authorities were complicit, a shocking addition to his consolation message.
"This is the most inhumane thing possible," said López Obrador. "It is unfortunate that organized crime acts in this way," he said, adding, "It is more regrettable that there are collusion with authorities." At around 10.30pm, show a charred interior with bodies on the floor. People hugged in front of the bar, behind the police tape.
Some early reports said the fire had been fired with homemade bombs. López Obrador said in his morning press conference: "The criminals went in, closed the doors and the emergency exits and set fire to the place."
The bar is located in the port city of Coatzacoalcos, which was plagued by violence, among other things, due to breaks in Zeta's criminal organization. One-month-old child was badly wounded in a shootout.
In recent years, Mexico has faced the double challenge of building a large, effective security force capable of fighting crime, as well as a judicial system that can keep the guilty parties on both fronts. for example with Veracruz. The state police is 61 percent smaller than it should be, said López Obrador this month.
The state should receive 7,200 members of the newly formed national guard – a mix of di various security agencies of the federal and state governments. Many of these officials were sent to an immigration enforcement mission under an agreement between the US and Mexico to reduce the number of migrants arriving at the US border. López Obrador had once spoken of the National Guard as a potential avant-garde in the fight against organized crime.
Other parts of Mexico have also experienced dramatic violence in recent weeks. Earlier this month, cartels were blamed for a cruel attack in the western city of Uruapan, where 19 mutilated corpses were exhibited. Last week, a Catholic priest, Rev. José Martín Guzmán Vega, was fatally stabbed to death in the northern city of Matamoros. Throughout the country four journalists were killed in the past month alone.
"The fact that 2019 will be the most violent year is not without reason. We have seen violence increase more and more, "said Francisco Rivas, director-general of the National Citizen Observatory, a research organization. He added that the increase was the result of an "incompetence of the state, lack of identification of the problem, without clear goals or strategies".
"The President says we are improving, but we are worse than ever, Rivas said.
Within hours of Tuesday's attack, López Obrador suggested the perpetrator had been" arrested and released ".
There is a problem that needs to be investigated regarding the actions of the Procuratorate in Veracruz and we call on the Attorney General to deal with this matter, "he said at a press conference on Wednesday
López Obrador mentioned no persons by name, however, seemed to refer to a statement by García, the governor of Veracruz, who tweeted about the man he had proposed was behind the attack.
"The signs of the regrettable crime in the Coatzacoalcos Bar suggest that one of the material writers is Ricardo & # 39; n alias & # 39; la loca & # 39 ;, which was de in July this year by the security forces of Veracruz was arrested and released by the Attorney General in less than 48 hours, "Garcia wrote.
However, the Attorney General immediately issued a statement contradicting Garcia's account. "A tragedy should not be used to distort facts and confuse public opinion," the statement said.
Ricardo N. was arrested twice by the Federal Government and released on 18 July and 7 August. not the Attorney General. This dispute sheds light on disruptions within the Mexican justice system, shifting the blame between state and federal agencies.
The Veracruz authorities said they are still looking for the attackers.
The deadly attack occurred nearly eight years after the Zetas The drug cartel has set off fire in a casino in the northern city of Monterrey, killing 52 people.
Mary Beth Sheridan and Gabriela Martinez contributed to this report.