El Chapo’s Daughter Seizes Crisis to Portray Him as a Robin Hood

(Bloomberg) -- El Chapo to the rescue.

The man himself may be in a supermax prison hundreds of miles from Mexico, but his likeness is stamped on face masks and free care packages being distributed throughout Guadalajara. El Chapo 701, the company founded by the drug lord’s daughter, Alejandrina Guzman, is behind the push. (The number 701 refers to his 2009 ranking on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s richest people.)

In mixing charity with commerce, she’s pulling a page from her father’s playbook. Tens of thousands of Mexicans were killed in the years it took Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to consolidate control over drug-trafficking routes, but he also built up a cult-like worship as a folk hero who gave back to the poor. Musicians wrote dozens of ballads glorifying his exploits, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador even chatted with his mother on a recent trip to El Chapo’s hometown.

El Chapo’s Daughter Seizes Crisis to Portray Him as a Robin Hood

In a video posted this week on Facebook, El Chapo 701 workers assembled boxes that included toilet paper, pasta and vegetable oil. “We’re working for you,” one of them said. A half dozen photos show the elderly and infirm receiving the goods.

El Chapo 701 sells consumer products from $80 bomber jackets to bottles of tequila with an illustration of the crime-boss’s handgun on the label. While El Chapo’s son is said to have taken over some criminal operations, there’s no indication that El Chapo 701 is involved in illegal activity. Calls to the company for comment weren’t answered, and its Facebook page was restricted on Friday.

Even so, the philanthropic push is taking place against the backdrop of a troubling trend -- unique to Latin America -- in which gangs that already run vast swathes of territory are entrenching control as police presence is diminished. Criminal groups are enforcing government lockdowns in El Savador and Colombia and distributing food in Brazil as self-appointed guardians of civic responsibility.

They’re “being very public about it,” said Maureen Meyer, Mexico director at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think-tank. The movement “suggests these organizations have little concern of retaliation from the federal government.”

Mexico is well behind other nations in terms of aid during the crisis. Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, promised to spend 60 billion pesos ($2.5 billion) in May on recovery efforts plus infrastructure investments. But he has steadfastly resisted calls for much more than that. The result is hitting ordinary Mexicans hard, with Bank of America predicting the economy could shrink as much as 8% this year.

For now, El Chapo 701 is only distributing aid boxes in Guadalajara, but it plans to branch out to other cities in Mexico, according to the Facebook page.

“Look out for yourselves,” a man is heard saying on the social media video. “Remember: There’s always a way out, as the good Chapo Guzman would say.”

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