Most Recent Closure Is A Popular Barbecue Restaurant Fearing For Its Workers and Customers
Another Cancun establishment is closing its doors definitively in the face of increasing waves of violence spreading across Quintana Roo. Multiple have ceased operations temporarily or permanently in the past months.
Barbacoa Comalcalco, a popular barbecue restaurant in the Downtown Cancun area, announced that it will close its doors permanently this weekend. The restaurant, while encouraging customers to enjoy a meal one last time, cited safety concerns for its staff and patrons in the face of escalating violence in the region.
In a message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook, the owners said:
“Hello BBQ Lovers
We want to share with you the closure of our doors this Sunday, July 3rd.Today our city is plunged into difficult times regarding security, which has made us make the most difficult decision yet. We have nothing but absolute gratitude for each of your comments and recommendations that helped the livelihood of our staff week after week.
Saying goodbye is also growing up and we wish you that life multiplies all the support you have given us so far, perhaps in the future we can see each other again.
We are waiting for you on Sunday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (Saturday we will not work) with all the pleasure of always closing and we have no more to say.”
Multiple replies to the statement showed support for the restaurant while criticizing the insecurity present in the city, often suggesting that the police aren’t doing enough to protect local businesses.
Sadly, the restaurant is one of a number of establishments that have chosen similar paths. Many have closed temporarily, looking for a way to safeguard their premises before resuming business, while others have decided the risk is too high.
Businesses in the city have found themselves on the receiving end of excessive violence stemming from organized crime in the region. Restaurants, bars, and even basic stores are often targeted by gangs as a way for the groups to make a steady income. Using racketeering or other threats of violence as a means to sell “protection” or use establishments to sell drugs, many businesses routinely find themselves at the mercy of the gangs.
Those who oppose or resist the threats are often met with retaliation, ranging from public threats to all-out attacks.
Recently, five downtown bars were brutally attacked by armed assailants, while several more were set on fire. Although the motivation behind the attacks is not completely clear, it was suggested that at least three of the establishments had received threats earlier in the month. The attacks may have been retaliation for resisting extortion, bribes, or other illegal activities.
During one attack, a bodyguard was executed at point-blank range, while another two people were killed. At least eight people were injured, although it is unclear if they were customers or workers.
In another highly publicized incident, a British businessman living in Playa del Carmen was assassinated in broad daylight after receiving threats on a business he was a partner in. Two assailants tracked his car and shot him with his fourteen-year-old daughter present. Once again, the exact motives were unclear, but it was suggested the business had resisted being used as a venue for selling drugs.
Tourists may avoid the brunt of any violence in the region, but for businesses, the threat is very real. While tourists fuel the drug market in the state, the risk remains for those living in Quintana Roo.
More businesses are likely to close in the coming months if the violence continues to grow. Those closing may be in a financial position to do so, but hundreds more will continue to depend on the regular income and cannot make the decision to shut up shop. Once again, the power lies firmly in the hands of visitors traveling to the state to ensure that they avoid drugs and that what may seem like fun, is a cog in a far darker scenario.
Tourists should ensure they make themselves aware of any drug laws upon entering Mexico, and understand that being involved places them at a higher risk of violence or prosecution.
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