Police officers’ aggression against a women’s protest in Cancún Monday has cost two officials their jobs.
The Quintana Roo public security minister resigned on Tuesday, a day after police opened fire on the protest, and the municipal police chief was fired.
Governor Carlos Joaquín said in a video message that he had accepted the resignation of Alberto Capella, a former Tijuana police chief and one-time security commissioner in the state of Morelos.
Mara Lezama, mayor of the municipality where Cancún is located, said that Police Chief Eduardo Santamaría had been dismissed in connection with the officers’ improper use of force.
Joaquín appeared to leave open the possibility that Capella would be reinstated, saying that he was stepping down while the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Public Security conducted an investigation to determine who was responsible for the shooting.
Capella, who took up his position in 2018, thanked Joaquín for the “great opportunity” to lead the security strategy in Quintana Roo.
The governor’s “vision, leadership and support have been key,” he said in a Twitter post, adding that he decided to resign in order to “act with transparency” during the investigative process.
In his video message, Joaquín apologized for the actions of the municipal police officers who shot in the air and at the ground to disperse people protesting outside the Cancún municipal palace against Sunday’s femicide of 20-year-old Blanca Alejandrina Lorenzana Alvarado.
He said that police and their commanders will be given additional training to ensure that something similar doesn’t happen in the future.
“We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and that citizens can protest freely and safely,” the governor said. “We’re going to strengthen protocols … and provide better training to police, especially in the use of public force.”
Joaquín said that eight people were injured during the protest including two journalists who were shot.
A man who was shot in the arm was successfully operated on and remains under medical observation, he said, while a woman who received a gunshot wound to her leg was discharged from hospital Tuesday morning.
The governor said the state was covering the costs of the medical treatment and would do the same for anyone else injured during Monday’s protest.
Joaquín reiterated that he gave clear instructions for police attending protests on Monday to be unarmed. He said his instructions were followed in every municipality in the state except Benito Juárez, where Cancún is located.
The governor said the municipal officers who opened fire are part of the single-command state police force but asserted that municipal forces are not under state government control. Chief Santamaría was responsible for the officers who opened fire, he said.
In an interview, Joaquín said Santamaría gave the instruction to officers to shoot to disperse the protesters. The ex-police chief explained his decision by saying that the safety of officials inside the municipal palace was at risk as a result of the protesters’ attempts to break into the building.
The governor also confirmed that the officers shot real bullets, not rubber bullets as some preliminary reports suggested.
He stressed that the femicide of Lorenzana, known to her friends and family as Alexis, and any other acts of violence against women will not go unpunished.
There have been 12 femicides in Quintana Roo this year, according to the state government, and the murderers of nine women have been taken into custody. Across Mexico, approximately 10 women are murdered every day.
Feminist groups have held numerous protests this year against gender violence and what they say is government inaction in the face of the problem.