MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he plans to visit the home town of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to promote development and make the point that the people of Badiraguato are not responsible for the actions of the notorious former resident.
“I think that towns should not be stigmatized,” the president said during his daily morning press conference. “Badiraguato is a town with history and many people who deserve respect live there.”
“And I am going to Badiraguato to carry out three important actions,” Lopez Obrador said, announcing plans to build a road through the mountains to link the town in the western state of Sinaloa with municipalities in neighboring Chihuahua.
The leftist president said he will push for the establishment of a public university in Badiraguato with a specialized forestry program focused on the use of the region’s resources.
Along similar lines, the area will be part of the “Sembrando Vida” (sowing life) program Lopez Obrador presented last week, which calls for planting 1 million hectares (2.46 million acres) nationwide with fruit-bearing and timber-yielding trees.
The plan for the Badiraguato area has a target of planting roughly 50,000 hectares (123,450 acres) and will create 20,000 permanent jobs, the president said Thursday.
On Wednesday, a day after Guzman was convicted on drug trafficking charges in the United States, Lopez Obrador said that he hoped Chapo’s fate would serve as a “lesson” to other criminals and called on his compatriots to “seek the path of righteousness.”
“We are striving to regenerate public life focusing on young people, jobs and well-being,” the president said.
The 61-year-old Guzman was found guilty on all 10 counts after an 11-week trial in federal court in New York. His attorneys say they will appeal.
El Chapo, who twice escaped prison in Mexico, was captured in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, in January 2016 and extradited to the US on Jan. 19, 2017.
Guzman was born in 1957 in Badiraguato, a town in the so-called Golden Triangle, a remote, mountainous area spanning parts of the states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua.
The Golden Triangle is home to numerous marijuana and opium-poppy plantations.
The Sinaloa cartel chief’s mother, Consuelo Loera, was still living in the Badiraguato area during the search for her fugitive son in late 2015 and early 2016.