66 Police injured in confrontation in Oxchuc, Chiapas

By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

oxchuc-fire

Before, during and after the confrontation with police in Oxchuc, Chiapas, dissidents burned three trucks belonging to the State Preventive Police, two small trucks of the “Trustworthy Police” and two buses belonging to commercial lines, besides damaging a tractor-trailer. Photo: La Jornada

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

The assistant government secretary in the Los Altos zone of Chiapas, Edgar Rosales Acuña, reported that a confrontation between state and municipal security forces, and residents of the municipio of Oxchuc who demand the dismissal of Mayor María Gloria Sánchez Gómez, of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM, its initials in Spanish), left 66 police injured, 15 houses vandalized and eight vehicles burned.

He said that the confrontation took place on Friday night when some 500 state police attempted to recover control of the municipal headquarters, situated 50 kilometres from this city (San Cristóbal de Las Casas), hours after the state police detained 38 opponents of the mayor, for the crime of rioting and for their alleged participation in the protests against Sánchez Gómez, who won the elections last July 19.

A dispute over power

The dispute for power in Oxchuc between the mayor and the local deputy, Cecilia López Sánchez, also of the PVEM, intensified with the burning of the city hall two days before the mayor would take possession of the office on last October 1, for the second time in less than 15 years.

For the last three months, hundreds of Sánchez Gómez opponents have held marches and carried out roadblocks to demand her dismissal and the formation of a municipal council, with the argument that she divides the population and benefits from her position as mayor that her husband Norberto Sántiz López had.

After different proposals, state authorities called the dissidents to a meeting in this city last Friday to deal with the theme, but the 38 members of the commission were detained by the police.

Rosales Acuña explained that after the detention, which occurred after noon on Friday, hundreds of Oxchuc indigenous blocked the highway that communicates this city with Ocosingo and Palenque, at the place of the municipal headquarters. They took possession of a tractor-trailer and two buses and blocked a street to impede the passage of state police vehicles.

He added that at night more than 500 police entered the municipal capital, which led to the confrontation with sticks, stones, machetes and other objects. “We have 66 injured, between state and municipal police who resisted the aggressors’ attack for more than three hours, after they found out that their leaders had been arrested,” he assured.

He reported that only eight of the agents were hospitalized, of which two are “delicate” and were moved to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. “They were injured with rockets, Molotov cocktails, sticks, stones and other objects.”

He expressed that before, during and after the confrontation, the dissidents set fire to three State Preventive Police trucks, two small trucks of the Trustworthy Police and two buses belonging to commercial lines, besides damaging a tractor-trailer.

He stated that they vandalized 15 houses, among them that of the municipal president and of the Indigenous Peace and Conciliation Judge, Rogelio Sántiz López, who together with two of his sons remained held this evening.

Tension in the municipio

“The situation remains tense in Oxchuc, although with less intensity than yesterday (Friday). Fortunately, we have no deaths and all the injuries are on our side because the police went armed only with clubs,” he specified.

He maintained that the opponents of the mayor “are a tactical group with military training who make patrols at determined times, who intimidate and deceive people, and oblige them to go to the marches because if they don’t they fine them. They also threaten them with taking away (cutting off) their water, light and drainage. They are well-trained groups who are confronting the governmental apparatus.”

The opponents reported that the assistant secretary for human rights of the Chiapas Secretariat of Government, Mario Carlos Culebro Velasco, “deceived” them because upon initiating the Friday meeting he told members of the commission that: “two packets would be open for negotiation: the mayor’s dismissal and that of Deputy Cecilia López, (and) he offered to integrate some of us into the Oxchuc municipal government and into the state government.”

In a comunicado signed by Hilda Gómez and Reynaldo Sántiz, they added that: “Culebro Velasco asked if we wanted to eat some tamales, and therefore ordered his collaborators to serve them with coffee. He left the office at 12:25 PM and two minutes after the farce of showing friendliness, ministerial police agents entered and detained the commission’s 38 members.”

The dissidents insisted on the dismissal of María Gloria –who works out of her private home–, releasing the detainees and forming: “a plural and inclusive municipal council that will generate peace and will work for all of the communities in Oxchuc.”

Translator’s Note:

The day after this was published, the Altos (Highlands) teachers’ organization issued a statement about this situation, indicating the leftist teachers group may be involved, and a citizens’ group also issued a statement.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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