According to the Associated Press, police said two men on a motorcycle fired at least a dozen shots into the store’s metal shutters and front door, leaving a message on a piece of cardboard that said: “Messi, we are waiting for you. (Mayor Pablo) Javkin is a drug trafficker, so he won’t take care of you.” Local reports, via the Mirror, speculated that barra bravas, Argentine soccer supporters, may be behind the attack, and a local TV station suggested the gunmen may be trying to extort money from the star player.
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One of Roccuzzo’s cousins reportedly runs the store, one of a chain the Roccuzzo family has operated in Rosario since the 1980s. Because Messi is a national hero and his in-laws sometimes still work in the shop, it’s a popular place.
“Nothing like this had ever happened before. I was watching TV when I heard (the gunshots around 3am). We heard them all. All the neighbors in the block came out to see what had happened,” a man identified as Oscar told El Pais, saying he lives next to the store.
The attack was quickly picked up by local and international media, and it soon became a political discussion. Rosario has become one of the most dangerous places in Argentina, with more than 280 murders in 2022, according to Argentina’s former security secretary Eugenio Burzaco.
“The situation of such a marked deterioration that is destroying one of the main cities of the country is due to the progress of the drug mafias that today control the territory,” he said on a recent podcast shared by the news site Infobae.
At least 39 murders occurred there in the first month of this year.
Security Minister Aníbal Fernández told local press that the government is working with over 3,500 security forces in Rosario to try to “reverse the situation” of insecurity there. “For 20 years this has been the situation,” he said.
President Alberto Fernández said he woke up to the news of the attack and called Javkin as soon as he heard it. “We’re doing a lot, but it’s clear we have to do more,” Fernández said during a visit to Salta. – The problem of violence and organized crime is very serious.
Former President Mauricio Macri wrote on Twitter that the attack is “Another warning to the national government and Santa Fe that you cannot live with the drug trafficker.”
Javkin has been critical of federal authorities for what he said is a failure to end the city’s drug-related violence.
“It is such a malicious (attack) that I question everything. Even that (it was done by) criminal gangs,” Javkin said, according to El Pais. “It is very clear that it is easy to hurt Rosario and that there is no concrete help. How far is the president from here, half an hour away ? I am the mayor of the city. I do not control the security forces, and when I (have) asked (to do so), they have not given me permission.”
Messi, who led Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years in December, has not commented on the incident and is in France playing for Paris Saint-Germain. He often visits Rosario and has a home in the Funes suburb. He is expected to travel to the country at the end of March for the national team’s friendlies against Panama and Curaçao.