Some 400 farmers have detained soldiers and police officers in the municipality of Heliodoro Castillo, Guerrero, demanding the government honor an agreement to distribute free fertilizer.
The unarmed farmers arrived in pickup trucks at a military barracks in the town of Puerto de Gallo yesterday, blocking access points and trapping 30 soldiers and 20 state police officers inside.
The farmers, who live in 27 communities in Heliodoro Castillo and San Miguel Totolapan, are demanding a meeting with the federal government’s Guerrero delegate, and said they won’t release the soldiers until their demands are met.
The group came prepared for a long standoff, having stocked up with on food, blankets and firewood.
Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores spoke to a representative of the group by telephone, and agreed to meet with them on Saturday in Acapulco.
One of the farmers told La Jornada that President López Obrador had promised to distribute free fertilizer to farmers in the area, but the government has not followed through on that promise.
“They haven’t kept their promise,” said Tomás García Sánchez, “and that’s why there’s discontent in these 27 communities. We need the fertilizer now because in some places our crops are already growing, but no matter how fertile the ground is our crops won’t grow.”
Farmers say the delivery of the fertilizer is urgent because the rainy season has started, and they may miss their chance to plant.
García said that if their demands are not met, the group is ready to take action to put more pressure on the government.
“We’ll go to Chilpancingo, we’ll block highways, we’ll take over toll booths, we’ll even take over their offices,” he threatened.
Another group of farmers detained about 50 soldiers on April 11 in the nearby town of Campo Morado after the soldiers fumigated opium poppies and fruit trees.
Many people in Heliodoro Castillo rely on growing opium poppies for income, but a decline in the price of opium over the past few years is pushing them to look for other options.