09/27/13 – Several news outlets reported that the Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG) was providing aid to victims of Hurricane Ingrid in the southern municipalities of the State of Tamaulipas, specifically in Aldama. According to media reports, CDG convoys transported and handed out tons of food supplies, including water, rice, flour, milk, juice, cookies, canned food and even beer, to inhabitants of the region that were isolated as a result of the hurricane. The hurricane’s damage was multiplied by Tropical Storm Manuel, which simultaneously struck Mexico; the storms forced thousands to flee and killed more than 100 people, including a number of children. As Reuters explains, “Hurricane Ingrid […] brought heavy rains to Mexico’s Gulf […] coast[…], causing landslides and flooding,” and leaving many rural areas inaccessible after roads washed away. The CDG delivered the supplies through waterlogged highways and dirt roads.
According to Proceso, the lack of response by the federal and state government to provide aid to affected communities in Tamaulipas led the CDG to start its own recovery efforts. A video uploaded to social networks on September 22 allegedly by the CDG shows footage of pick up trucks transporting and distributing supplies to the victims. The video titled “Gulf Cartel Aiding Aldama, Tamps” (Cartel Del Golfo Apoyando Aldama, Tamps [sic]) alternates between footage of images from the CDG’s hurricane relief efforts and messages such as, “CDG distributes supplies in Aldama, Tamaulipas Mexico,” “Help, something that neither politicians nor governors have done,” and “They take care of people with no interest.”
The released video has created quite a bit of conversation, not just because a criminal organization is aiding and assisting a population in need, but also because it is doing so in place of federal and state government agencies who have not provided the disaster relief the damaged villages require. The comments posted under the video on YouTube and other social media sites exemplify the frustration and confusion among Mexicans. “How is this possible,” one comment reads, “that a criminal organization with such impunity can move among the communities in which government agencies should be present?”