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In drug lord’s state, Mexicans march for peace

March 2, 2014

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) — Fewer than a hundred people marched for peace in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa on Saturday, several days after about 1,000 supporters of arrested drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman held a protest demanding his release.

The Saturday peace march was billed as a step “to regain pride in being from Sinaloa,” after prominent coverage of Wednesday’s march of Guzman supporters.

While not billed as an anti-Guzman protest, some residents of the state capital of Culiacan clearly opposed the image that residents in his home state support the drug lord arrested last weekend.

Marchers wore white clothing, and carried placards with slogans like, “Long Live the Good Sinaloans” and “Sinaloans are hardworking people.” Unlike the Guzman march, there was no free food or brass band music at the peace march.

Some pro-Guzman marchers said they liked the drug lord because he provided jobs, money and protection. At Wednesday’s march, norteno musicians played trumpets while high school students in uniforms held up signs reading “We want Chapo free” and “We Love Chapo” as they paraded in Culiacan, long considered the cartel’s bastion.

Demonstrators also said they opposed any attempt to extradite Guzman to the U.S., where he faces several drug-trafficking charges in different states.

“El Chapo” is widely considered the world’s most powerful drug lord. In rulings this week, two federal judges said he will have to stand trial on separate drug-trafficking and organized-crime charges in Mexico. The Attorney General’s Office said he also faces organized-crime charges in six other cases in four Mexican states and in Mexico City.

Guzman, who escaped from a western Mexico prison in 2001, is to remain in Mexico’s highest-security prison. The government has said he will not soon be extradited to the U.S., where Guzman has been indicted in California, New York and other states.

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