Conducting the 2020 national census is proving to be a dangerous business: census takers have been mugged in at least two states and Mexico City and one interviewer was shot.
At least seven census takers employed by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) to carry out the 2020 Population and Housing Census were held up in Juchitán, Oaxaca, on Thursday.
According to a report filed by a local Inegi coordinator, the census takers were working in the 11 de Septiembre neighborhood when they were intercepted by two men on a motorcycle.
The assailants stole five mobile telephones, 1,000 pesos in cash and a motorcycle from the census takers, according to a report by the newspaper El Universal. The victims said that nobody was injured during the robbery and explained that the police carried out an operation to search for the criminals but no arrests were made.
Other census takers in Juchitán, a municipality in the Isthmus of Tehuantepc region almost 300 kilometers south of Oaxaca city, suspended work on Thursday afternoon after hearing about the robbery.
The muggings followed a gun attack on a census taker in the same city on Monday. A 37-year-old male Inegi employee was shot in the abdomen, chest and forearm while working in the Juchitán neighborhood of Magisterio Democrático. He sustained serious injuries but is now in stable condition. The perpetrators of the attack fled on a motorcycle, Inegi said.
Since that attack, police have accompanied some census takers as they carry out their work in Juchitán but a lack of officers means that all Inegi interviewers cannot be protected all of the time.
“We can’t go out to to work under these conditions of insecurity,” one Juchitán census taker told El Universal.
Census takers have also been targeted by criminals in Puebla, where six muggings have been reported. Most recently, two Inegi employees had their mobile telephones and electronic census equipment stolen while working in the municipality of San Martín Texmelucan on Thursday afternoon. The census takers were reportedly threatened by two men who approached them on a motorcycle.
Other incidents have occurred in the municipalities of San Felipe Teotlalcingo and San Salvador el Verde, the Puebla-based newspaper Puntual reported.
In Mexico City, three census takers were subjected to violence between March 2 and 6, the first week that the 2020 census was conducted.
On March 3, a 39-year-old female Inegi employee was held up at gunpoint in the northern borough of Gustavo A. Madero by a man who stole her mobile phone. Later the same day in the same borough, a 32-year-old woman was threatened with a firearm after knocking on a door in the 2 de Octubre neighborhood.
The man demanded that she hand over the electronic device she was using to record census data but she refused and fled, ABC Noticias reported.
Two days later, on March 5, a man was arrested in the sprawling eastern borough of Iztapalapa after stealing the mobile phone and census device of a male Inegi employee.
More than 150,000 census takers plan to visit some 45 million homes by March 27 to collect information such as the age, ethnicity, religion, marital status, education and employment status of more than 125 million Mexicans. Inegi last conducted a national census in 2010.