Saturday, June 15, 2024

Citizens detain 20 National Guardsmen, 19 other officials in protest

Residents of a small town in the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca detained 20 members of the National Guard, five police officers and at least 14 state government officials on Tuesday in an act of protest against alleged government inaction in the face of violence.

The security force members and officials from the Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office (FGE) remained in citizens’ custody in Santiago Textitlán early on Thursday.

They were detained by residents of Río Santiago, a community in the municipality of Textitlán, located about 130 kilometers southwest of Oaxaca city.

The residents say they were forcibly evicted from their homes on December 20, 2020, by armed citizens from Santiago Xochiltepec, another town in the same municipality.

Residents of Río Santiago and Santiago Xochiltepec are involved in a dispute over the allocation of resources from the municipal government.

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The Río Santiago residents have remained in Santiago Textitlán, the municipal seat, since being driven out of their homes more than six months ago. They say their homes were looted and set on fire on May 12 and that authorities have done nothing to help them or stop the violence, which has claimed at least two lives. However, the people they detained were deployed to investigate the violence they have denounced.

Much of the residents’ anger has been focused on the General Secretariat of the Oaxaca government and its head, Francisco Javier García López. However, they are now calling on Governor Alejandro Murat to personally attend to the situation.

“Whoever comes will be detained, if it is not the governor himself,” wrote FGE officials who are being held in a letter asking for Murat’s intervention.

García said the residents, who have shared videos of the people and vehicles they detained, want the state or the federal government to commit to compensating them for their losses.

He said the security force members and government officials in citizens’ custody slept in vehicles or municipal government offices on Tuesday night under the guard of residents. They are as calm as can be expected “because we’ve been in permanent communication” with them, García said.

He said the state government had offered to sit down with the disgruntled Río Santiago residents to discuss their demands, adding that’s “the only way we’re going to reach an agreement.” It was unclear whether Governor Murat planned to meet with the residents.

The National Guard said on Twitter Thursday morning that it was participating in dialogue between residents and authorities and that it hoped an agreement could be reached with the state.

“We will favor negotiation at all times so that this conflict is resolved favorably,” it said.

With reports from Reforma and Televisa 

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