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Chapala mayor acts to prevent harmful rumors

June 4, 2012

To avert a “collective psychosis that affects residents and visitors to Chapala,” Mayor Jesus Cabrera launched a new security initiative against disinformation at Guadalajara’s Congress building on Thursday morning.

The recent wave of violence in the Chapala area has precipitated the circulation of unfounded rumors via social networks and false media reports which needlessly alarm the population and complicate the work of the police.

“These lies affect us so much as a tourist community,” Cabrera said, slamming the “irresponsible use of social networks by unscrupulous people spreading messages of fear.”

To counter this, Cabrera unveiled the Public Security Preventative Plan against Disinformation in Chapala.

Under the new initiative, “Canal 3 sin Censura” will be the official source of information. Through Canal 3, news will be transmitted every day, throughout the day, via the website  http://www.chapala.gob.mx, social networks, email and even mass phone calls if necessary.

As of next week, municipal police will visit each home in the Chapala area to collect information and build a database, enabling authorities to warn or inform any family in real-time in case of emergency. Municipal public security booths will also be installed in Chapala to deal with citizens’ specific doubts or suspicions.

Upset by some recent media coverage, Cabrera used the press conference as an opportunity to personally quash some of the rumors that had been making the rounds.

“We reject the argument that the foreign community is leaving the Chapala riviera,” he said, citing the U.S. consulate’s immigration records as evidence to the contrary.

“No businesses or schools have been threatened,” Cabrera assured. While some restaurants have been closing earlier than usual due to the recent wave of violence, he noted that none have decided to close down completely.

Cabrera also revealed that in May the Jalisco Public Security Agency carried out confidence tests on 88 of the 120 municipal policemen in Chapala, including the director, with results showing they are “absolutely trustworthy” and “free of links to organized crime.”

Telephone extortion

Chapala police chief Reynol Contreras also spoke at the conference to warn the population about a series of recent extortion attempts. Since May 9, there have been around 30 reports per day of Chapala residents being threatened over the phone.

The callers claim membership of certain criminal gangs, suggesting that there are armed men nearby. They then demand personal information and warn the victims not to go to the municipal police, who they claim are working with them.

In fact, Contreras said the calls  are being made from the northern state of Tamaulipas, with the phone numbers usually beginning with the digit eight. The police chief advised residents not to answer numbers they do not recognize and suggested that anyone who has been called before should change their sim card.

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