A protester attacks the fence Sunday in Akumal. A protester attacks the fence Sunday in Akumal.

Tensions have eased after Akumal violence

Tulum mayor pledges to help during dialogue yesterday

The situation was calm yesterday in the community of Akumal after a violent confrontation Sunday over access to a public beach.

An accord brokered by municipal secretary Gilberto Gómez Mora called for the removal of a controversial fence, topped with razor wire, that blocked access to a stretch of beach. It was the fence, reportedly erected by hotel owners, that fueled Sunday’s violence.

In ratifying the agreement, Tulum Mayor David Balam Chan pleaded for caution and good sense in order to preserve the image of the popular tourist destination.

Tensions were high yesterday morning after the Hotels Association of Akumal censured the fighting among residents, private guards and police. But things cooled down after Balam announced his support for the community and his intention to take up local issues with the Quintana Roo governor.

Among the requests that came up during yesterday’s dialogue were that municipal delegate Abraham Rejón, accused of working in concert with hotel owners, be removed from his post. Residents asked that restrictions be placed on the hours of sale of beer to prevent the town form turning into an open-air bar on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Sunday, residents staged a march and upon arriving at the fence some protesters tried to pry it open. In response, private security guards reported the incident to the local police department.

There were conflicting reports of what happened after police arrived.

Leonardo Kumul, the representative of a local human rights organization, estimated that there had been over 100 people injured. He also charged there were instances of abuse of authority and torture.

In the end, two police cars were set on fire while some cars parked nearby sustained damage. A palapa was also set on fire and six young people were reportedly arrested.

Some residents have reported that those under arrest were beaten and then released beside a federal highway. At least one was found unconscious and was transported to Playa del Carmen and then Cancún with injuries that were described as serious.

At some point municipal police headquarters were also set on fire.

Municipal secretary Gómez Mora said the administration would file a formal complaint against whoever was responsible for the damages to police headquarters and patrol cars.

He said Sunday’s violent acts were perpetrated by a group of outsiders.

Source: Milenio (sp), Sipse (sp), El Universal (sp), Riviera Maya News (en)

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