Violence in the Guerrero municipality of Tixtla has been so severe for two years that the lack of basic services such as running water and sewage disposal has become secondary.
Tixtleños, as they are called, have found themselves in the crossfire in a territorial war between two criminal gangs, Los Rojos and Los Ardillos. So far this year gangsters have been involved in at least five car chases in the streets of Titxla in which were gunshots were fired.
But in the last few weeks the violence related to that turf war has escalated to the point where residents have decided to react.
Yesterday morning some 500 of them closed the five main road accesses to the municipality to all motor vehicles, allowing only pedestrians to come and go.
The roadblocks were set up between 7:00am and 2:00pm on highways to the cities of Chilpancingo and Chilapa, and to the smaller communities of Apango, Atliaca and El Troncón.
“If these gangs want to eliminate each other they can do it in the hills, not in the streets of Tixtla, because they affect us, because we can die or be injured by a stray bullet,” said Flavino, a retired teacher and one of the visible leaders of the protest.
Atop a vehicle wired with loudspeakers that was parked on the federal highway to Chilpancingo, Flavino asked fellow residents to show their support for the protest.
“This was a calm city and now thanks to those criminals no one can be on the streets.”
The mobilization was triggered in large part by an incident June 4 in which state police chasing a group of criminals allegedly shot and killed Eduardo Catarino in his home, a murder that remains unexplained.
Early reports said Catarino, a lawyer and active member of the Morena political party, was sheltering with his family in their home during a gunfight in the street outside when police entered. They allegedly assassinated Catarino and planted a weapon on the premises.
The state government denied that version of events, saying that armed civilians who were involved in a faceoff against police had entered various houses to seek cover and continue shooting.
Meanwhile, the Tixtla roadblocks were lifted after residents agreed to meet today with government representatives to analyze conditions in the municipality.