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Mexican president highlights his support of Baja California during visit to Tijuana

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke in Tijuana on Friday morning, following a weekend of chaos in the border city that left more than 30 vehicles burned and residents in panic.

López Obrador highlighted his support of Baja California governor in addressing the events of last weekend.

“We are very pleased to be here to support Gov. Marina del Pilar Ávila Omeda. She was democratically elected. She is the legal and legitimately-constituted governor,” said López Obrador, speaking at a news conference at a military base in Tijuana early Friday morning. “She has our support and even more our sympathy. We have come to tell her that she is not alone and that the federal government will always support her,” he said.

López Obrador’s trip to Tijuana and the border was planned before last weekend’s shocking escalation of violence across the border in areas that Californians and San Diegans regularly visit. Reports that the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación had declared a curfew in Tijuana began to circulate online on Friday, emptying many of the usually busy streets.

Experts said the events revealed the high level of belief citizens have that criminal organizations are able to successfully confront government forces in Mexico. Most of the city went home, shuttering their businesses and leaving the Xolos game early, based off anonymous — and some outdated — messages that circulated on social media, while state and local officials tried to assure residents there was no official lockdown.

The president, like state officials earlier this week, seemed to boast about the government’s prompt response to the vandalism and fear, during which no one was killed in Baja California. He added “now that the events of Friday were presented and they received the immediate support of the federal government, it’s clear that when it is needed we will be here, or rather, we will always be here to support the people of Baja California.”

Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval, national defense secretary, highlighted crimes which he said are on the decline in Baja California, including vehicle theft and homicides. He said there are 14,727 troops present in the state, which includes elements of his agency known as Sedena, the National Guard, the Navy and state and municipal police forces.

He highlighted the arrests of six suspects Monday in Los Mochis and Culiacán in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, including one who Mexican authorities say was the ringleader of the violence last weekend in Tijuana.

Sandoval said those arrests highlight the high level of coordination between local and federal law enforcement.

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