February 6, 2013 in Nation/World

6 tourists raped by gunmen in Acapulco

Attackers entered rented home while victims slept
Tracy Wilkinson Los Angeles Times
 
Associated Press photo

State police check a taxi at a roadblock after masked armed men broke into a beach home, raping six Spanish tourists Monday.
(Full-size photo)

Violence takes shine off resort

The granddaddy of Mexican resorts, Acapulco was glorified in Frank Sinatra songs and Elvis movies. Elizabeth Taylor was married there and John F. and Jackie Kennedy came on their honeymoon.

But the once-glittering resort that attracted movie stars and celebrities in the 1950s and ’60s has been battered by years of drug-related violence. Beheadings and gang shootouts, some on the city’s main seaside boulevard, became more frequent after 2006, as gangs fought for control of the city’s drug and extortion business.

Except for very few incidents, the violence has not touched tourists. Still, the U.S. and Spanish governments last year issued warnings advising extreme caution while traveling in Acapulco.

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Six Spanish tourists on vacation in Acapulco were raped by masked gunmen who burst into their lodgings in the middle of the night, roughed up their companions and made off with cash, laptops and other valuables, authorities said.

The attack early Monday on what was in Mexico a long holiday weekend came as the onetime tourist mecca struggles to salvage its reputation. Acapulco, faded gem of Mexico’s Pacific coast, has become one of the deadliest cities in the country as rival drug traffickers fight for control.

“This is a very regrettable incident that undoubtedly hurts Acapulco,” Mayor Luis Walton Aburto said at a news conference.

Most of the violence has been limited to dicier parts of the city not frequented by tourists.

But this attack took place near the beach about six miles south of the so-called Diamond Zone, Acapulco’s newest and most luxurious enclave.

Acapulco’s city government press office said the tourists had rented a bungalow on Enchanted Beach south of the city, alongside small four-star hotels that advertise themselves as places for meditation, relaxation and yoga.

Walton said at least five gunmen entered the rooms where the tourists were sleeping, beat and tied up six men and raped six Spanish women. A seventh woman, a Mexican national, was unharmed, he said. The nationalities of the male tourists were not disclosed.

Walton added that the women were raped despite what he described as “excellent security” beefed up in Acapulco for the holiday weekend. Federal police and the army patrol parts of the city.

No arrests have been reported in the case.

The Mexican foreign ministry Tuesday expressed regrets for the rapes and said Spain’s consul general, based in Mexico City, had traveled to Acapulco to assist the victims.

Against obvious empirical evidence, Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero, the state where Acapulco is located, has repeatedly vowed that the resort is destined to make a comeback and recover its past glory.

The drop in tourism is blamed in part for a $33 million deficit in the city’s budget.

Killings and kidnappings are so rampant in parts of Guerrero that armed vigilante groups now patrol five villages in the southern part of the state. Operating outside of formal law, they have captured around 50 “suspects” whom they plan to put on a kind of “people’s trial.” Human rights groups as well as the state government are eyeing the developments nervously.

A group of the vigilantes opened fire over the weekend on two Mexican tourists headed to the beach who failed to stop at one of their impromptu roadblocks. The tourists were injured but survived.

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