Mexico: Business booming in Tampico as much as it'
TAMPICO, MEXICO - Launching a business in a city battling violence, that's what's happening in Tampico, Mexico. CNN's Nick Parker takes us where the Mexican government is trying to reclaim the once thriving oil hub from drug cartels.
A bombed out restaurant an ominous presence on this Tampico street corner. Yet the city is a future nerve center for Mexico's energy industry.
Pedro Daniel Arellano,Business Development Director,COBSA, "Right now we see in Tampico a boom. You can see a lot of nationalities in the airport: Chinese people, Germany people, French people."
As Mexico opens its energy industry, investors are eyeing deep water oil exploration, fields and rich shale basins in the region. Tampico's ports in the Gulf of Mexico make it a unique transport hub, for energy firms as well as drug traffickers. Last year the government sent in a large number of troops after a spike in cartel violence. The city was the cradle of Mexico's energy industry and retains the colonial architecture from its boom time.
Nick Parker/Reporting, "The striking thing about Tampico is that in many ways it resembles a bustling functioning city. But as you move around there are cartel lookouts on the streets and evidence of violence."
The threat has long been faced by state oil company Pemex, which operates Tampico's refinery. It says production levels have not been affected.
Josefino Revuelta Martinez Refinery Manager, PEMEX, "We have the support of the military to protect the facilities and the workers themselves says the refinery manager. We consider that sufficient."
For residents and small businesses, however, extortion and kidnapping remain a part of everyday life. Blogger Eduardo Cantu lead street protests against the violence and is now running for public office.
Eduardo Cantu, Activist, "We have to fight to get back our city. We have to fight to get back our peace. I want a city for my boy with opportunities."
There is still a long way to go. Late in the afternoon, we got word of a military operation underway.
Nick Parker, "So we've just arrived at a crime scene in daylight hours just outside the main downtown area of Tampico. Behind me you can see the army are here. Just over here you see the federal police - the gendarmaria. And they are attending the scene of a body lying in the street."
The man had been shot in the head, execution style. We were the only team of journalists there and observers say much of the local media is scared to report cartel killings. Despite this, violence has actually decreased from last year.
Dwight Dyer, Control Risks, "Certainly in the medium and long term the situation is bound to improve. There will be bumps along the way but both the Federal and State governments and society in general which is probably the most important part are committed to making a difference."
The hope is investment can help reduce violence and improve the lives of residents who have had to bear so much.
Read More >>