Two airports reopen in Mazatlan area
Manitobans fleeing embattled Mexican state may soon be heading home
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Manitobans stranded in a popular Mexico tourist destination after violence swept through the region this week should soon be heading home.
Two airports have reopened in Mazatlan, a travel hotspot in the northwestern Sinaloa state, after days of instability following the arrest of alleged drug trafficker Ovidio (The Mouse) Guzman, son of former cartel boss Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman, on Thursday.
Flights were cancelled and travellers were advised to shelter in place. Gunshots rang out and vehicles burned on area roads.
On Saturday, Sunwing appeared to have a flight from Mazatlan to Winnipeg scheduled to arrive late in the evening, according to the Richardson International Airport website’s arrivals page.
The Free Press requested comment from Sunwing Saturday but did not hear back.
Sheila North, a Winnipeg journalist on vacation in Mazatlan, told the Free Press she was on a boat with family members when she noticed plumes of smoke coming from the mainland Thursday.
“It’s definitely unnerving, to say the least, because we don’t want anything bad to happen and get caught up in anything,” North said in a Friday interview.
North and her family were scheduled to fly home Friday but the flight was cancelled and rescheduled at least twice.
In a tweet Saturday, she wrote: “Heading home.”
On Saturday afternoon, CAA Manitoba said it had been in touch with five Manitoba members in the Mazatlan area who had flights delayed or cancelled. A total of 32 members were also scheduled to depart the embattled area that day.
“We have been reaching out to them to discuss their options,” said CAA Manitoba spokesperson Elisha Dacey, adding that member safety is top priority.
Dacey encouraged travellers to follow advice from Global Affairs Canada, noting that travel agents have been “extremely busy and the situation is fluid.”
A Government of Canada travel advisory warns of “widespread violence and security operations in Sinaloa State, particularly in Culiacán, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Guasave since the arrest, on January 5, 2023, of a cartel leader.”
“There are burning cars, exchanges of fire and threat to essential infrastructure, including airports.”
Travellers are advised to contact their airlines to check their flight status.
Canadians in Sinaloa are advised to shelter in place if possible and avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. People should not attempt to cross road blockades, even unattended ones, and should allow extra time to reach their destination.
— with files from Maggie Macintosh
Katrina Clarke is an investigative reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Sunday, January 8, 2023 3:39 PM CST: Updates headline