Mexico is ready to send ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán to ‘Brooklyn’s Abu Ghraib’

A lost cause?el chapo 6

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech during a welcome ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City.Thomson Reuters

Despite — or maybe because of — the humiliation Guzmán has heaped on Mexican officials, with his daring escapes and sprawling criminal empire, Mexican citizens have proven less enthusiastic about his possible extradition.

According to a May survey by polling firm Parametria, just 35% of Mexicans said they agreed with Guzmán’s transfer to the US — down from 50% in March 2014, a month after Guzmán’s second capture.

Only 27% of Mexicans said they disagreed with the Mexican government’s plans to extradite Guzmán, down from 38% in January 2016, but the number who said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the decision climbed to 27% in May from just 16% in January.

Mexicans’ seeming ambivalence about Guzmán’s possible extradition is likely the result of combination of factors.

For many, dismay about the state of country and its leadership has likely influenced their opinion — an April poll found that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had just a 30% approval rating, with disapproval at 66%, while in August 2015 more than seven in 10 Mexicans said they were dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

And while Guzmán has surely earned the scorn of many Mexicans, others likely remain endeared to him.

His largesse and charisma has earned him a kind of “Robin Hood” status among people in his native Sinaloa state. And, like many other cartels, Guzmán’s organization likely practices a version of narco corporate social responsibility that keeps many people in its fold.

The consensus since Guzmán’s recapture in January has been that he will eventually find himself in a US courtroom. But that seeming ambivalence among the Mexican public, along with the success Guzmán’s legal team has had in slowing the proceedings against him with appeals and injunctions, appear to have given heart to those who still back him.

“If it were a lost cause, I wouldn’t be defending him,” Guzmán’s lead attorney, José Refugio Rodríguez Nuñes, told CNN.

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