Madera, a small city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of Mexico City, is the heart of Mexico.
It’s the capital of Chiapas state, home to more than 50 million people.
It was the epicenter of the drug war in the late 1990s, when Mexico’s drug cartels dominated the streets and the country was plunged into a bloody war.
Now, the once sleepy, rundown tourist-friendly town is a thriving city full of flower shops, restaurants, and boutique boutiques.
But not everyone is a fan of flowers.
“There’s something wrong with this flower shop,” said Carmen Rodriguez, a shopkeeper who has worked at the flower shop for about 15 years.
“The prices are too high, and the customers don’t understand the prices.”
More than 30 percent of the town’s flower shops are shuttered, according to Rodriguez, and nearly all the flowers are from Mexico.
The shopkeepers say they have been forced to close their shops because they cannot pay their bills and the prices have increased to about $500 for a 1.5-inch-by-1.5.5 inch (5.6 to 10 centimeters) bouquet of white, red and purple flowers.
Some of them are also made from fake flowers, and they are selling for thousands of dollars a piece.
A few of the flowers in the shop are imported from Mexico, and other vendors sell them as well, Rodriguez said.
But many in Chiapás are not so lucky. “
They should take the money back, and send us to Europe.”
But many in Chiapás are not so lucky.
They say they’ve paid nearly $2,000 to get flowers from Mexico in the last two years, and a large portion of the flower purchases have gone to criminals.
They say the drug cartels are making their own money, by selling the stolen flowers and then laundering the proceeds through Mexico’s Central American cartel.
“They’re not giving anything back,” said Luis Gonzalez, who works at the flowers shop.
“But they’re making their money.”
The flower shops in Chiabas, known as “La Fiesta,” are the scene of some of the worst drug-related violence in Mexico.
About 2,000 people were killed in that conflict, and many others were tortured or killed by the cartels, according the Mexican government.
But it was not until 2013 that a new drug war began to break out in Chiapa.
“We were in Chiapo,” said Elisabeth Morales, a flower shopkeeper in the flower section.
“We were selling flowers, but we had no money.
Now we have to sell more flowers.”
In 2013, Mexico’s government launched a new program to fight the drug trade in Chiablas, where most of the violence took place.
Thousands of Chiabans began arriving to get the flowers and to help feed their families.
Now, with a new wave of drug trafficking and a growing influx of migrants from Central America, many residents are leaving.
One shopkeeper told Reuters that the new program is not helping to ease the problem, and he blames the Mexican cartels.
“It’s because they’re not paying their taxes,” he said.
Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office says about 70 percent of those arrested for drug trafficking crimes in Chiacaas have links to the Central American cartels.
But many locals blame the government for the violence and the lack of assistance from the drug cartel.
Many Chiabanas residents are now turning to crowdfunding to support their families in the coming months.
A GoFundMe page for families in Chiacoas was set up by local artists, including the famous graffiti artist Salvador Dali, and has already raised more than $1,000, according a GoFundme spokesman.
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Original article on Live Science.