Federal Police officers who continue to protest against having to join the new National Guard clashed on Tuesday with Mexico City police outside the Mexico City airport.
About 60 police, including 32 on the city force, were injured in a violent confrontation on the Circuito Interior freeway outside Terminal 1.
Mexico City Police Chief Omar García Harfuch said that seven officers were taken to hospital but none was in serious condition. He accused federal officers of throwing 12 tear gas grenades at Mexico City police and said that another 22 gas grenades were seized.
About 1,200 Federal Police officers began blocking Circuito Interior shortly after 10:00am to demand compensation from the government because they don’t want to join the National Guard when the force is disbanded.
About 400 city police tried to dismantle the blockade, triggering a violent response. Officers from both forces were briefly detained by their opposite numbers.
Federal Police said that some of the officers they detained were armed, a claim that was denied by Mexico City authorities.
After the initial clash, an additional 300 Mexico City police arrived at the scene along with Harfuch, who initiated talks with protest leaders. But the talks quickly broke down and the Federal Police refused to lift their blockade.
The violence restarted within minutes, the newspaper El Universal reported. Mexico City police responded to the throwing of tear gas grenades by launching the same at their federal counterparts. Reporters and civilians were also affected by the gas.
Police maintained their blockade for more than six hours, causing traffic chaos outside the airport. Some people missed their flights, El Financiero reported, while others were escorted to the airport by police so they could arrive on time.
The federal Security Secretariat of Security (SSPC), which has responsibility for the Federal Police, condemned the blockade and violence.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the operation to break up the blockade was a success although she conceded that police protocols for responding to protests could be improved.
President López Obrador weighed in on the clash this morning, suggesting that it was no coincidence that police staged their protest outside the airport on the day that former Bolivian president Evo Morales arrived to take up an offer of political asylum.
“There continues to be a lot of provocation. It’s not possible, it’s not a coincidence that Evo arrives and at the same time they’ve organized a protest. It’s not spontaneous, there is someone that is rocking the cradle,” he said.
“. . . I’ve given instructions for there to be dialogue, for [officers] that don’t want to go into the National Guard to be paid off. We’re not dismissing anyone but we can’t have officers [in the National Guard] without a good track record. We have to have honest, professional people who are not linked to illegal acts,” López Obrador added.
Federal Police have staged several protests against their transfer including one in September that blocked the Circuito Interior outside the airport for almost nine hours.