Twelve local police and municipal employees remain hostages of residents of a Guerrero town who went on the rampage Monday to demand the delivery of promised services.
Some 600 people from Pueblo Hidalgo occupied municipal offices in San Luis Acatlán, demanding the municipal government follow through with promises to spend 13 million pesos (US $677,000) on infrastructure and social services.
They arrived in San Luis Monday afternoon, armed with sticks and demanding a meeting with Mayor Agustín Ricardo Morales. When they were told the mayor was not present, the group attacked government buildings, took police officers and other government employees hostage and seriously injured one local official, who was rushed to a hospital in Acapulco.
The unhappy citizens went on to loot the police station, taking as many as 19 firearms and 135 rounds of ammunition, four police cars and other items. The hostages are being held in Pueblo Hidalgo.
Víctor Figueroa, one of the group’s leaders, told the digital news service Sin Embargo that Mayor Morales had broken a promise he had made in March to spend 10 million pesos on infrastructure improvements and to distribute 3 million pesos to town councils in the municipality.
In an interview with the newspaper El Sur, Morales said he had been forced to sign the aforementioned agreement when the same group kidnapped him for two days in March.
The agreement, he said, “isn’t valid, because it was signed under pressure.”
“Of course, we’re going to ask that the law be applied,” he said. “Such barbarism can’t go unpunished, especially the attacks on workers and public servants.”
Morales also accused the protesters of being supporters of an opposition candidate who lost the 2018 mayoral election.
“They’re upset because their candidate, Adahir Hernández from the Citizens’ Movement, didn’t win, and they still haven’t gotten over it,” he said.
The mayor says that he has been open to dialogue with the protesters, but the law prevents him from meeting their demand to be given money in cash.
In an interview with El Universal, protester Samuel Laureano Linares denied that they were demanding money in cash.
Rather, Linares said, the group is demanding to be allowed to participate in and supervise infrastructure projects. He added that for many years local officials have stolen parts of the municipal budget and built low-quality infrastructure.