(TMU Op-Ed) — Alejandrina Guzman, daughter of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been distributing boxes of food, masks, soaps, sanitizers, and other essential supplies to parts of Mexico where the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.
She utilized the resources and staff from her clothing brand “El Chapo 701” to put together care packages that include essential pandemic items. In addition to masks and soaps, each box contains toilet paper, cornstarch, seasoning, noodles, soups, crackers, oil, sugar, beans, and rice. Many of the items included labels with images of the imprisoned El Chapo, including the masks and the boxes that they were shipped in.
Guzman and her employees sought out sick and elderly people who were having trouble finding or affording supplies.
An announcement about the project was made on the clothing brand’s Facebook page, but the page was quickly deleted after the story started making international headlines.
It is not clear why the Facebook page was deleted as Guzman’s company is entirely legal and only sells clothing and liquor.
“We want to ask you to please refer us to people who really need help, who do not have basic government support, neither from family nor grandchildren. That they are lonely or low-income people who really need it,” Guzman said in a video that is now deleted from Facebook.
The company called the care packages “El Chapo’s provisions.”
According to Reuters, other Mexican cartels were giving away similar care packages. Alleged members of the Gulf Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel posted videos and photos to social media showing food and necessities handed out to low-income communities in Mexico.
Black market syndicates all over the world have been getting involved in pandemic relief effort. As the Mind Unleashed reported last week, the mafia has been distributing food and supplies to low-income areas in Italy where many families have run out of both money and food.
Politicians who have had their effort reliefs upstaged by cartels and gangs during the crisis have voiced concerns that these groups are seeking to gain credibility and influence among the people.
Falko Ernst, an analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, told Reuters, “They’re trying to leverage the perceived absence of the state for their own good and to become deeper entrenched in local communities.”
However, many activists have found these types of assessments ironic considering that governments use similar tactics to win over their citizens.
It may be true that criminal organizations use philanthropy as a way to gain influence and win public opinion. After all, Al Capone was famous for running soup kitchens in Chicago at the height of his criminal empire, and other notorious gangsters like Pablo Escobar were also known for the charitable activities that they provided for their local communities.
However, it is also true that corporations use these same tactics to win over customers with philanthropy and public relations schemes. And the government is no different—many government programs that assist people in need were only put into place to appease the public and keep people from rioting or protesting against the corruption, violence, and criminal activity that the government is involved in.
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