It appears that nothing is sacred to organized crime in Mexico – at least if Mexican officials are correct in establishing blame for an attack on Sept. 15 that killed eight people and injured more than 100 (reports of numbers killed vary from three to eight) in the colonial city of Morelia. Eleven children were wounded, none seriously.
Like the 4th of July in the US, Sept. 16 is a day that Mexicans cherish and traditionally celebrate with parades and large gatherings in city and town plazas throughout the country. The large gathering at 11 p.m. the night before the holiday is apparently what attracted the attackers.
Thousands in a crowd near the governor’s home were poised to repeat the “grito,” or shout for independence, about to be delivered by Gov. Leonel Godoy, when an explosion rocked the plaza. A second blast was discharged a few minutes later a few blocks away. The governor said that because of the damage and death toll, officials believe grenades were launched into the crowd.
Godoy is governor of Michoacan, the home state of President Felipe Calderon and a center for drug trafficking. Thousands of soldiers are already in the state, trying to stem the violence and flow of drugs. Calderon pleaded for information about the attack and promised an immediate response by armed forces.
"The country demands national unity, unity that requires our unanimous repudiation," the president said.
The attack raised speculation as to just who was to blame. "It could be a warning to the federal government, which has put a lot of money and manpower to deal with drugs, which are very powerful there," said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank on Western Hemisphere affairs. "It could be leftist guerrilla groups that occasionally throw a bomb.”
This attack sends a chilling message to the people of Mexico. Although the drug cartels have been killing their rivals in increasingly gory incidents, they generally do not attack crowds of people that include women, children and other innocent people.
Morelia’s Independence Day parade was cancelled, as the attack cast a pall over parades planned across the nation to celebrate the 1810 start of Mexico’s 10-year war of independence from Spain.