A mob in an indigenous community in Chiapas simulated the hanging of a mayoral candidate and demanded a ransom for his release on Sunday.
The Morena candidate for mayor of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Juan Salvador Camacho, was forcefully detained for eight hours along with his 20-strong entourage, who were made to pay 300,000 pesos (around US $15,000) to gain their freedom.
Indigenous Tzotziles in the community of Los Llanos, 22 kilometers from San Cristóbal, said the politician failed to fulfill promises for public works made in his previous campaign for deputy in the state Congress.
The Camacho family name is tied to a contentious history with indigenous communities. Camacho’s late father, Manuel Camacho Solís, was a key political figure in negotiations between the government and Zapatista (EZLN) insurrectionists in 1994.
In the two videos which emerged yesterday, Camacho is heard saying he only has 100,000 pesos, which provoked one man to snatch the glasses from the candidate’s face and throw them to the ground, on which others forced him to walk barefoot.
One man can be heard shouting “Bring me a skirt, we are going to take his trousers off” as the captive candidate was led beneath a tree to face a noose.
The candidate looks uneasy as the noose is released from his neck amid shouts of “Are you going to get it [the money]?”
Camacho then puts a hand to his chest and says “It’s OK” to indicate agreement.
In a statement the Morena party said it “[condemns] any act of violence that destabilizes the political-electoral and social environment in the community … there is no pretext that justifies the physical, emotional and psychological instability of any citizen, much less harassment be it for ideological, political or personal beliefs,” it read.
Camacho said that the episode was the result of political failure. “Our communities in San Cristóbal are unhappy as a result of years of indifference on the part of the authorities, who have historically seen them as electoral spoils. We reconcile, we dialogue, we go ahead and we are stronger than ever … We are going to win, because we represent the authentic transformation of San Cristóbal,” he said.
Politics are complicated in Chiapas where the largely indigenous militant EZLN controls substantial swathes of the state. Their armed uprising began just days after Manuel Camacho Solís took office in 1994. He was charged with mediating an agreement with the militia on behalf of the government.
The EZLN rose in opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement and demanded the autonomy of indigenous communities be recognized in the constitution.
Juan Salvador Camacho is also the cousin of Senator Manuel Velasco Coello, who was tangled in corruption scandals as governor of Chiapas from 2012 to 2018.