Saturday, June 15, 2024

Police in Ixtlahuacán, Jalisco, are disarmed; mayor disappears

The municipal police force of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Jalisco, was disarmed on Friday a month after a man was allegedly arrested for not wearing a face mask and beaten to death by officers.

Jalisco state police assumed responsibility for security in the municipality, located about 40 kilometers south of Guadalajara near Lake Chapala.

A municipal police commissioner, a middle-ranking commander and a police officer were arrested on Friday in connection with the alleged murder of Giovanni López, a  30-year-old construction worker who was arrested on May 4 and died in hospital of a traumatic brain injury the next day.

His alleged murder at the hands of police triggered protests on Thursday and Friday in Guadalajara.

In addition to being suspected of committing acts of abuse against citizens, 34 of 69 municipal police in Ixtlahuacán have not passed confidence tests that certify they don’t have links to organized crime.

Ixtlahuacán Mayor Cervantes is apparently AWOL.
Ixtlahuacán Mayor Cervantes is apparently AWOL.

Mayor Eduardo Cervantes Aguilar was summoned to appear before state law enforcement authorities on Friday to make a statement about the alleged murder but failed to appear. His whereabouts are unknown, the newspaper Milenio reported on Saturday.

Cervantes is under investigation for obstructing the investigation into the alleged murder. Giovanni López’s brother claimed that through a third party the mayor offered his family 200,000 pesos (US $9,270) not to publish a video he recorded of his brother’s violent arrest, which has circulated widely on social media and news websites.

He also said that Cervantes threatened to kill members of his family should the video come to light. The mayor has rejected the claims.

Jalisco Attorney General Gerardo Octavio Solís said the mayor has now been summoned to appear before authorities on Monday and should attend with a lawyer.

At a press conference on Friday, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro said an investigation will determine what happened to Giovanni López. He asserted that the claim he was arrested for not wearing a face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic is a fabrication for “political purposes.”

Solís said he was arrested for “aggressive behavior” but the man’s family denies the claim.

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Alfaro also said that his government will do everything it can to hold to account a man who set a police officer on fire at the protest against López’s death in Guadalajara.

The governor accused President López Obrador of sending troublemakers to Thursday’s protest during which demonstrators clashed with police, set police vehicles alight and broke into the state government palace.

Alfaro changed his position on Friday but still accused the federal government more broadly of instigating violence.

“What I say to the president is that I still believe that he is a good person, … he’s not giving these instructions but I also clearly say to the president of Mexico that people close to him, people of his government and his party are betting on violence as a route to maintain power, to continue looking after their interests and personal agendas,” he said.

During Thursday’s protests, no one from the federal government called to inquire about the situation, Alfaro added.

The governor criticized Interior Minister Olga Sánchez and the deputy interior minister for asserting that López was arrested and beaten because he was not wearing a face mask in public. Both officials have spread lies about what happened, Alfaro said.

The governor on Thursday defended the policing of the protest even though video footage showed some officers acting aggressively toward demonstrators without provocation.

However, Alfaro said that some officers had overstepped the mark at a second protest against López’s death on Friday by attacking demonstrators with batons and sticks and even detaining some before abandoning them on the outskirts of Guadalajara.

He said the offending state police officers had failed to follow his instructions to act with common sense and caution and had already been arrested.

“A group of police … defied my instructions and acted in an irresponsible and brutal way that will not be forgiven. We will apply the full weight of the law against whoever is responsible. … Although we live in turbulent times, nothing justifies the excessive use of force.”

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp) 

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