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The Puerto Escondido visitor who was jailed for not wearing a face mask. The Puerto Escondido visitor who was jailed for not wearing a face mask.

Oaxaca visitor recounts violent arrest for not wearing face mask

'It was like one of the worst days of my life'

A foreign visitor in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, did not have a good experience when police arrested and jailed him on Saturday for not wearing a face mask.

A man who identifies himself only as Derek on his YouTube channel said in a video posted Saturday that he was arrested in the Pacific coast beach town while smoking a cigarette.

“I was actually sat down waiting for my friend smoking a cigarette and they [the police] came up behind me and grabbed me by the arm and started dragging me off,” he said.

The man said he asked why he was being detained and was told that it was because he wasn’t wearing his mask. He said that the police didn’t accept that smoking a cigarette was a valid reason for removing it.

Derek said he was placed in the back of a police truck with one other man who had also been arrested. He said that officers subsequently took him to a police station, stopping along the way to arrest more people who were not wearing masks.

“They’d pull over, they’d grab you, they’d throw you in the back of the truck kicking and screaming. They didn’t care if you’re a woman, they don’t care if you have kids, they don’t care if you’re a grandma; they grabbed everyone,” he said.

The man pointed out that the officers violated social distancing recommendations by placing seven or eight people in close quarters in the back of the police vehicle.

Once in the police station, Derek said that he was stripped off his possessions and placed in a jail cell without being told how long he would be held. He said that there were 10 other people – none of whom were wearing face masks – in the cell and that there was urine, feces and water on the ground.

The man said that he was held in the cell for two or three hours during which time some of the other people were fighting each other.

“There’s three guys wrestling around, smashing their faces against the concrete, banging their heads off the floor. There’s blood everywhere, there’s buckets of water being thrown at the walls. I’m being splashed with blood and sweat and water and everything. And they’re trying to keep us safe from Covid by making us not socially distance, cramming us into a box full of disease for hours on end,” he said.

Derek said that he was eventually taken out of the cell before being forced to pay a fine of 150 pesos (US $7) in order to leave the police station.

“It was like one of the worst days of my life, pretty much. I mean it’s in the top 10 or top 15; it was pretty bad,” he said.

Derek said that he was unaware of any law that made it obligatory for him to wear a mask in Puerto Escondido.

“It’s not a law … to read the news every day. I’m sorry I didn’t read the news, there were no signs,” he said.

He concluded that the police operation was not about protecting people from possible coronavirus infection but rather about control and extracting money from them.

“They didn’t ask who I came into contact with, they didn’t try to do any contact tracing, they didn’t care if we were social distancing and they definitely didn’t care for masks once they throw you in prison. … I’ve lost a lot of respect for Mexico, a lot of respect for Puerto Escondido, a lot of respect for Oaxaca. … That was abominable, there is no excuse for that behavior.”

The mayor San Pedro Mixtepec, in which part of Puerto Escondido is located, announced last week that effective on Friday police would begin arresting anyone not wearing a face mask. The penalty would be six hours in jail or three hours of community service.

The mayor said cells would be regularly cleaned and sanitized.

The man’s arrest came just days after the government of Santa María Colotepec, the other municipality in which Puerto Escondido is located, enforced stricter restrictions due to a coronavirus flare-up even though case numbers remain extremely low.

Citizens have also been arrested for not wearing a face masks in other states including Nuevo León and Jalisco.

A 30-year-old man detained in May in the Jalisco municipality of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos was beaten to death by police after his arrest, according to the Jalisco Human Rights Commission.

Mexico News Daily 

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