Extortion closes SMA bars

After blogging recently about rising crime in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), it saddens me to report that extortion has now shut down five bars in the city’s historic centre, causing 80 people to lose their jobs.

At the same time, in neighbouring Celaya – 50 kilometres to the south – crime gangs have shot and killed four people after local business owners staged a demonstration to protest extortion.

SMA bar owners who spoke to El Universal, a Mexico City newspaper, said suitcases filled with marijuana and cocaine were left in their premises along with notes from the cartels saying they had to sell the drugs by a specified date. If they failed to meet the deadline, a “corrective” would be given. Five owners opted to discard the drugs and close their bars rather than comply with the order. The bars are all located in a popular tourist section of the city.

SMA municipal authorities continue to downplay the rise of crime in their city. The business owners are adamant, however, that extortion exists and say they fear retaliation if they go public like their neighbours in Celaya. The Mexican news agency Notimex confirms that it saw one of the extortion notes containing the threat of corrective action.