Mexico's media are critical and cynical over 'El Chapo' Guzman's escape

The second prison escape by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel and Mexico's most powerful drug lord, has created a wave of criticism toward the country's government.

Guzman escaped sometime Saturday through a mile-long tunnel that ran under largely unpopulated land and ended in a somewhat isolated house under construction, surrounded by empty fields.

Mexico's media have raised questions about how it was possible construction went unnoticed and whether prison guards played a role in his escape. 

Newspaper headlines on newsstands read "Wanted, Again" and "Ridiculous, Again." 

Newspapers and online websites have devoted some of its coverage to the international attention the country has received.

The Silla Rota, a Mexican online news publication, said Guzman's escape became a trending topic on Twitter for almost 14 hours. As details of his escape were released to the public, memes made the rounds on social networks, most criticizing the weaknesses of the Mexican prison system, the publication reported.

So far, more than 30 guards at the Altiplano prison, which sits about 50 miles west of the capital have been detained for questioning. The prison's director has also been detained. 

Some newspapers described a sophisticated escape. 

“The tunnel that the drug trafficker used to escaped had two deviations and such a deep decline that it managed to pass right under the patio area and some internment modules up to the maximum-security area,” La Jornada newspaper reported.

“The planning was perfect and the tunnel used for the escape began right at the shower floor of cell number 20, the last tower. The leader of the Sinaloa cartel removed his monitoring bracelet and left it in that shower, which was a 'blind spot' for the surveillance camera.”   

The escape is reminiscent of the 1992 incident when Pablo Escobar, drug lord of the Medellin cartel, escaped from prison, wrote Juliana Fregoso of SinEmbargo.mx, an online news publication.

“The only difference is that the secluded prison that held the then-most powerful kingpin of the world was very precarious, while El Chapo escaped from a high-security prison with a sophisticated surveillance system,” Fregoso said.  

Guzman escaped from a different prison in 2001 and remained a fugitive until his arrest last year.

Editorial pages have also targeted the president’s administration over the latest prison break.

La Jornada said the escape was “inexcusable,” especially because President Enrique Peña Nieto had said in a television interview that a second escape by Guzman would be “unpardonable.”

“In terms of criminal and political, the escape of Guzman shatters the credibility and undermines the institutions and their top brass,” the newspaper wrote. “The incident not only gives society a sense of the power and capacity of organized crime, but also the supreme indolence and serious decay that is rampant within government agencies.”

"It’s unpardonable, Mr. President, you said it” wrote Ciro Leyva of El Universal newspaper. “It’s a shame. This shows that Mexican authorities are incapable of holding some of the most dangerous criminals.”

Fregoso said many think tanks and academics believe the escape could mark the end of Peña Nieto’s presidency.

She said the administration has already been negatively marked by corruption, political impunity and mistrust. Now Peña Nieto will have to answer not only to the Mexican people but also the United States for never extraditing Guzman.

La Prensa newspaper said one thing the Mexican government wants to do now is revamp its entire prison system. 

Twitter: @LATvives

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