Residents of a southern sierra Oaxaca municipality, fed up with a mayor they claim is corrupt and does nothing for the community, got as far as putting a rope around his neck and threatened to hang him.
They held the Sola de Vega politician captive for a day under threat of death to demand his resignation after blocking access roads.
Hoping to avoid more violence, state security officials approached the blockade to the municipality in force but maintained their distance while they tried to negotiate with residents.
National Action Party (PAN) Mayor Esaú Núñez was taken captive Wednesday — and at one point threatened with lynching — after he approached the blockades and attempted to enter a dialogue with residents. After residents reacted by taking him captive, beating him, and throwing a noose around his neck, he was rescued by another group of residents but held captive for hours in a building near the municipal palace.
“The government did not put you in power, the people did, and if the people want you out, then let’s go,” one of Nuñez’s constituents can be heard on a video recorded of the mayor’s capture.
In the video, Nuñez can be seen reduced to tears, begging the group not to kill him.
The mayor was freed Thursday morning, but the blockades remained in place.
Nuñez is the root of the problems in Sola de Vega, say the residents. They accuse him of diverting public funds to buy himself a ranch, purebred horses, and several luxury vehicles instead of executing promised public works. They also say he is in cahoots with local criminal gangs.
Matin Mijangos, a representative for the Citizens’ Committee for Sola de Vega, told the newspaper Milenio that Nuñez has forgotten his duties to the municipal government, has prioritized the desires of a powerful family over the town’s needs and has permitted organized crime cells to operate in the community.
In a radio interview, Nuñez disputed the characterization of his administration and said the background to the dispute was political. In the case of at least one public works project residents said he never built, a recycling plant, he claimed that the funds to build it had yet to arrive.
The blockades have been stopping traffic for hours at a time on the Oaxaca city-Puerto Escondido highway since Tuesday. At one point on Wednesday, vehicles waited as long as 12 hours until 1:00 a.m., when local officials managed to negotiate a temporary freeing of the barriers to allow traffic to pass.