Mayor Hernández, right: taken prisoner by citizens. Mayor Hernández, right: taken prisoner by citizens.

Mayor taken prisoner as dispute flares up

Conflict continues between two Oaxaca municipalities

A decades-old territorial dispute between two Oaxaca municipalities flared up on Sunday, resulting in the detention of a local official, after which a mayor was taken prisoner in retaliation.

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The flare-up occurred after the treasurer of a committee responsible for an annual festival in a neighborhood of Santa María Colotepec invited the mayor of a neighboring municipality to attend the event.

Not only was Fredy Gil Peneda Gopar, mayor of San Pedro Mixtepec invited to attend, his administration paid for the fireworks castle, a popular feature of the festival in Lázaro Cárdenas.

That raised the ire of Colotepec Mayor Valentín Hernández Díaz, who on Sunday ordered the arrest of the treasurer for getting too chummy with the enemy.

It was not a peaceful arrest, according to local media reports. Municipal police grabbed the treasurer by the neck and attempted to strangle him, following which they threatened to set him on fire and kill him in retaliation for being a traitor.

The arrest triggered a violent response by citizens of Lázaro who took the mayor into their own custody and demanded the release of the treasurer.

They seized some council members as well, and demanded the resignation of the municipal administrator and the chief of police.

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However, by Sunday evening a representative of the state government had brokered a peace agreement and the mayor was released. There was no word on the fate of the treasurer.

Lázaro Cárdenas

At stake in the conflict between Santa María Colotepec and San Pedro Mixtepec is control of the city of Puerto Escondido, a popular tourist destination.

The last major blowup between the two municipalities was a year ago when one person died and three were wounded in a short gun battle in the streets of the city.

Source: El Imparcial (sp), Quadratín (sp)

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