Angry citizens in Puerto Escondido yesterday. Angry citizens in Puerto Escondido yesterday.

Territorial fight flares in Oaxaca beach town

1 dead, 3 wounded in gunfire on the streets of Puerto Escondido

There was gunfire yesterday in the streets of Puerto Escondido, one of Oaxaca’s principal tourist destinations, but it wasn’t a result of warring crime gangs engaged in a gun battle.

The cause was similar to most disputes in the state — a fight over the ownership of land.

One person died and at least three were wounded in the 40-minute confrontation that took place in the city of Puerto Escondido, steps from the Adoquín, one of the beach destination’s tourist attractions.

For many years the municipalities of Santa María Colotepec and San Pedro Mixtepec have been at odds over the territory on which Puerto Escondido sits, and every few years, usually after local elections, tempers flare and the dispute turns violent.

Early yesterday, according to local reports, two employees of the city’s Agencia Municipal turned up on the Adoquín to help business owners do some clean-up.

Santa María Colotepec police soon turned up and took the two into custody because the area is part of the disputed territory and is claimed by Colotepec.

When officials of San Pedro Mixtepec got word of the detention they called for a meeting of citizens at the Agencia Municipal, where it was agreed they would march peacefully to a Colotepec municipal office nearby.

But that municipality’s police fired warning shots into the air at the approach of the delegation and the gunfire began.

A report by the newspaper El Imparcial suggested that the first shots were provoked by the sight of bodyguards of San Pedro Mayor Fredy Gil Pineda Gopar, who were carrying firearms.

The situation calmed after about 40 minutes but by that time the violence had left one person dead and three wounded along with worry among citizens. The incident came at the height of the city’s winter tourism season and most depend on the tourist industry.

Source: El Imparcial (sp)

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