In the midterm elections of June 2021, Rubén Rocha Moya was elected governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, snatching the position from political rivals with 55.8 percent of the total vote, according to data from the INE (National Electoral Institute). He won by a wide margin of nearly 25 percent, with his closest opponent Mario Zamora, from the coalition of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), and PAN (National Action Party), securing just 31.1 percent of the vote.
Rocha Moya governs under the protection of Morena (National Regeneration Movement), the party that Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) founded in October 2011. Like almost all the Morenoite state leaders who took power last year, Rocha Moya has adhered from day one to the rules, beliefs, and even maxims of AMLO, who asked for the “blind loyalty” of the governor’s practices every day.
Sitting at his desk in a very casual outfit, without appearing luxurious or displaying the power that his position confers, he answers questions from Independent en Español emphatically, as any ‘Culichi’ (citizen of Culiacán) would. Some are uncomfortable, others do not concern him but represent a challenge, a few months after taking office.
The fight against organized crime is the main issue on the state agenda:
“Security is a topic of concern for the governments of Mexico and even the world. We are followers of President López Obrador and our strategy is his. We need to give a sense of life to all the poor who live in marginalization, not only to feed themselves but to provide them with education, culture, sports, and a way of living with dignity. People often act out of hunger, lack of culture, lack of attention from the authorities.”
In an interview with Independent en Español, Rocha Moya assures that “the use of force by the State is imperative to prevent and prosecute crimes in order to avoid impunity”. And he remarks: “The crime that is committed and not punished is a crime that is repeated. We are going to act accordingly and, in the three months that I have been in charge of the State Government, we are doing it.”
Convinced that AMLO’s anti-crime policy of “abrazos, no balazos” “(hugs, not bullets) means applying preventive action to address the causes that generate crime, the governor assures that “economic and social assistance, job opportunities, the generation of places of recreation, educational and cultural coverage, and addressing health problems, are the hugs that the government should give”.
In previous administrations, the people of Sinaloa were embraced, but by organized crime. According to figures from the FGE (State Attorney General’s Office), in 2021 alone, the municipalities that recorded the highest number of crimes were Culiacán, with 10,170; followed by Ahome, with 5,734; Mazatlan, with 4,725; Guasave, with 2,257; and Navolato, with 824. In the last five years, crimes have been on the rise. In the capital of Sinaloa alone, 9,625 crimes were registered in 2017; 9,814 in 2018; in 2019, it decreased slightly to 9,768 crimes; in 2020, it had another slight decrease with 9,610; but in 2021, it increased to 10,170 crimes.
The governor assures that “there is a stigma that we are going to fight because we are not a violent state”. Sinaloa is no longer among the most conflictive regions of the Mexican Republic, as it was during the six-year term of former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa from 2006 to 2012. Now the top spots are held by states like Zacatecas and Guanajuato, which are in dispute between the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel), commanded by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho.”
However, Sinaloa still records more federal crimes than Mexico City, in its division of “crimes against health”. In 2021 alone, the Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection recorded 20 cases of drug production in Sinaloa, while in the capital of the country only two were registered. Regarding cases of drug transportation, 155 were recorded in Sinaloa and 42 in Mexico City. Regarding the possession of drugs, Sinaloa registered 136 cases that include consumption; while the capital had 57.
Source: The Independent