- Title: MEXICO: Drugs war dampens Monterrey's independence celebrations
- Date: 17th September 2011
- Summary: MONTERREY, NUEVO LEON, MEXICO (SEPTEMBER 15, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF INDEPENDENCE DAY REVELERS PASSING THROUGH SECURITY CHECKPOINTS
- Embargoed: 2nd October 2011 13:00
- Location: Mexico, Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Crime,History,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEWIB224IJHKESPIHMU5MUT4YY
- Story Text: As Mexico celebrated on Thursday (September 15) its Independence Day from Spanish rule, residents of the northern city of Monterrey saw in their festivities under heavy police guard.
Taking place less than one month after a brazen attack on a popular casino killed over fifty, one of the worst cases of civilian murders in recent years, authorities took no chances as locals marked Mexico's most important political date of the year.
"The security looks really good. It's a shame we have to live like this but we have to take these measures, but I can't enjoy time with my family like normal," said Monterrey resident Salvador Rojas.
Whilst President Felipe Calderon's bloody campaign against drug cartels prompted over a dozen municipalities to call off their independence events in 2010, Monterrey's defiant residents turned out in their droves to watch Nuevo Leon governor Rodrigo Medina give the famous cry of independence, known as "El Grito", that inspired the country on its path towards independence in 1810.
However, in neighbouring Tamaulipas state festivities were marred by a car bomb that went off at the height of independence festivities in Ciudad Victoria. Although no injuries and deaths have been reported by authorities, the state is also grappling to tame powerful drug traffickers and are investigating if the blast was drug related.
Since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led war on the cartels in late 2006 that has killed some 42,000 nationally, grenade attacks, beheadings, firefights and drive-by killings have surged in Monterrey.
The notorious Zetas are fighting an alliance of the Gulf and Sinaloa cartel for control of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas's smuggling routes into the United States.
Monterrey's independence festivities followed yet another bloody day for the city that saw a 24-hour crime spree on Wednesday (September 14) kill 25 people in the wealthy region. However, Monterrey's revelers are eager to put their worries behind them for at least a day and celebrate what many regard as the birth date of the modern Mexican state.
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