A group of citizens and municipal councilors took control of the offices of the municipality of Zaachila in central Oaxaca this week to demand the resignation of the mayor.
A diverse cross-section of the municipality’s residents, including taxi drivers, merchants, politicians and other residents gathered in front of the municipal palace Monday evening to demand a meeting with Cástulo Bretón Mendoza to insist that he address widespread problems.
In response, the mayor fled through a back door. Upon learning of the his escape, outraged residents occupied the municipal palace and symbolically placed official government notices of closure at different points around the building, insisting that the municipal council strip the mayor of his powers and hold special elections to elect a new one.
Residents and local politicians say that since Bretón took office, he has been deaf to citizens’ petitions to fix serious issues in Zaachila, including the collapse of drinking water and drainage pipes in several neighborhoods and interruptions in public transportation service.
City councilor Leticia Coroneal said the mayor often fails to show up for work and that when he does, his office is closed to residents. She added that Bretón “finances are a mess” and that he has hired friends and family members for top positions in the municipality.
However, rising crime might have been the final straw for fed up residents. On Sunday morning, police found the body of a woman who had been beaten to death in her home. No arrests have been made.
Coroneal said residents are angry over the lack of action against crime and insecurity.
A Oaxaca state government official said that state authorities will try to mediate the conflict between residents and the mayor.