Source – wsj.com
– “…The vehicle for Ms. Guzmán’s charitable giving is her “El Chapo 701” brand—a number taken from her father’s former place on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s wealthiest people when he ran the Sinaloa Cartel. Through an online store, the company designs and markets objects such as tequila glasses and clothing like bomber jackets, baseball caps and cowboy belts with her father’s image or a .45-caliber pistol with his initials”
SM: …So very important to ‘Dress for Success’...
New Face of Mexico Charity: Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ – By José de Córdoba
Incarcerated cartel chief’s daughter is glorifying his image by using it on gifts to the needy
A face mask with an image of the infamous drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, is held up in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Photo: francisco guasco/Shutterstock
MEXICO CITY—The daughter of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is doing well by doing good.
While her father serves a life sentence in a super-maximum security prison in Colorado, Alejandrina Guzmán is distributing food and other supplies in packages bearing her father’s likeness to the poor and elderly in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.
(Also Read: El Chapo’s new clothing line will tunnel you out of fashion prison
Her initiative shows the enduring popularity of a notorious criminal whose violent exploits and daring prison escapes provide inspiration for television movies and traditional ballads in a country now struggling with rising economic hardship amid the coronavirus pandemic. A majority of Mexicans survive day by day working in an underground economy of small businesses that has been destroyed by social-distancing measures.
The vehicle for Ms. Guzmán’s charitable giving is her “El Chapo 701” brand—a number taken from her father’s former place on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s wealthiest people when he ran the Sinaloa Cartel. Through an online store, the company designs and markets objects such as tequila glasses and clothing like bomber jackets, baseball caps and cowboy belts with her father’s image or a .45-caliber pistol with his initials.
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Her mission statement praises the elder Guzmán, who was born poor in the mountains of western Mexico, received only a third-grade education and sold oranges as a youth before rising to the top of a criminal organization that sold billions of dollars of cocaine, marijuana and heroin to the U.S. and other countries.
On his way up, Mr. Guzmán warred against other drug cartels, unleashing violence that has plagued Mexico since 2006, when the government ordered the military to fight the cartels. Since then, more than 250,000 Mexicans have been killed, with more than 60,000 missing, mostly victims of internecine violence for control of routes and territory.
“Proud of his roots, a friend to all, a willing leader, attentive and always there for his people,” the statement says. “In the whole world he is known as the CEO of Sinaloa, or the Lord of the Mountains. He is the one and only legendary 701.”
In recent days, the “El Chapo 701” page on Facebook has posted images of the capo’s daughter wearing a black medical mask adorned with her father’s visage packing cardboard boxes with essential supplies. The “Chapodespensas” (“Chaposupplies”) are stuffed with cooking oil, beans, pasta, sugar and toilet paper.
Mr. Guzmán was escorted by army soldiers in 2016, when he was recaptured after escaping prison in Mexico.
Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press
Ms. Guzmán didn’t reply to a request for comment. Neither did Mexican state and federal officials.
Ms. Guzmán, the kingpin’s eldest daughter, was married in January to a member of another of Mexico’s most prominent drug families in the cathedral of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa state. The cathedral was roped off with yellow crime tape for the occasion, while armed men patrolled the site.
Three months earlier, hundreds of Sinaloa cartel gunmen took over Culiacán for hours shortly after the Mexican military captured one of Ms. Guzmán’s half-brothers, prompting his release. The Mexican government, deeply embarrassed by the event, said it released the younger Guzmán to avoid a bloodbath.
For decades, politicians and powerful drug cartels have distributed packages of aid to the poor as a form of political patronage. Criminal groups such as Sinaloa, the Gulf Cartel and Los Viagras deliver groceries to the needy in broad daylight while publicizing their acts on social media.
Meanwhile, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has largely dropped the previous policy of confronting the cartels, replacing it with a policy dubbed “abrazos no balazos” (“hugs not bullets”), which offers more job and educational opportunities to the nation’s youth to address the poverty and inequality that the president says are the root cause of the nation’s drug violence.
Last month, Mr. López Obrador was criticized after he shook hands briefly with Mr. Guzman’s mother during a tour of the remote region where El Chapo was born and raised.
“They are so comfortable with the federal government these days that they see no risk in promoting themselves and appearing as friends of the people,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a Mexico City security analyst. “Since its inception, Sinaloa in particular has been a cartel that cultivates its social base,” giving the cartel a strategic alliance that helps fend off law enforcement.
An employee of ‘El Chapo 701’ handed out a box with food, face masks and hand sanitizers to an elderly woman in Guadalajara this month.Photo: fernando carranza/Reuters
In the “El Chapo” website, Ms. Guzman says she is a legitimate businesswoman who believes in Mr. López Obrador’s vision of supporting the legal work of “stigmatized” people. She says part of the proceeds of the sale of the El Chapo merchandise will be donated to a foundation to prevent drug addiction.
Videos and photos posted on social media show that since the coronavirus pandemic has brought most of Mexico to a standstill, the cartels haven’t wasted time cementing popular support in areas they control by handing out cash and similar packages of goods.
In the northern city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, recent photographs posted on social media show heavily armed men wearing medical masks, military camouflage uniforms and body armor marked with the Gulf Cartel’s initials handing out packages of goods to homemakers.
In Guadalajara, Ms. Guzmán’s handouts appear to be popular. “I keep saying that El Chapo should be free,” wrote Patty Benítez Ortiz on the Facebook page. “Thanks for supporting the needy.”
“A noble cause,” agreed Becky Castillo, writing on the Facebook page.
The two women didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Other would-be recipients of Ms. Guzmán’s largess posted their addresses on the Facebook page where they could receive the “Chapodespensas.”
A short video on the page shows elderly people receiving the packages while a traditional Mexican ballad dubs Mr. Guzmán a “very elegant person” who would always be welcome in the mountains of western Mexico.
In another video, an unseen interviewer says the Guzmán family is “doing its bit” to help the forgotten elderly get through the crisis.
Advertisements show “El Chapo”-branded merchandise, including a blue paisley-designed shirt called “The Sean Penn” selling for $42. Mr. Penn, the actor, and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo—who acts in drug-trafficking-focused soap operas—interviewed El Chapo in the mountains of Sinaloa for a 2016 article in Rolling Stone magazine shortly before Mr. Guzmán’s capture. Mr. Guzmán wore a similarly designed shirt during the interview.
Also for sale are a belt with the number 701 embroidered with silver thread for about $150, cigarette lighters for about $17 and a set of four tequila glasses for $31. For customers with a romantic bent, a black, embroidered St. Valentine’s card is available which says: “I want to be the most wanted man, but of your heart.”
The charity run by the eldest daughter of Mr. Guzmán, depicted in a small bust above, handed out toilet paper, antibacterial gel and face masks in Guadalajara this month.