At least two major universities, along with an unknown number of schools for younger people, canceled in-person classes in Zacatecas on Monday due to an outbreak of violence around the state.
Army troops from nearby Jalisco have joined the National Guard in patrolling areas that have been affected by roadblocks, shootings and vehicle fires allegedly perpetrated by cartel members in the region. The municipalities most affected have been Fresnillo, Zacatecas city, Jerez and Valparaíso — all within about 100 kilometers of one another.
Among the institutions that called off classes were the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, the National Polytechnic Institute and the Academic Mineral Institute. Primary, junior high and high schools in Valparaíso and Fresnillo also told their students to stay home.
Fresnillo has been plagued since Friday by shootings, roadblocks and at least one house fire. As of Monday, at least one man was reported murdered.
“In order to safeguard the security and integrity of the university community, particularly students … face-to-face academic activities will be suspended this Monday, August 29,” explained UNAM Zacatecas officials, adding that classes would take place virtually. At most of the schools, Monday was to be the first day of classes.
Additionally, 350 medical interns were told to not show up for work Monday by order of the IMSS, the Zacatecas Health Secretariat and UNAM Zacatecas, according to a tweet from journalist Paco Elizondo.
Saúl Monreal, the mayor of Fresnillo and the brother of Zacatecas Governor David Monreal Ávila, urged state and federal authorities to take action against the dispute-fueled violence that is turning the population into “hostages.” Fresnillo was reportedly the municipality most affected by the violence.
On Saturday, there were reports of at least eight blockades with burning vehicles. The violence continued over the weekend and into Monday. On Sunday evening, a spokesperson for the State Peacebuilding Board reported a trailer truck with its cabin on fire in the municipality of Zacatecas. There have also been reports of armed clashes, allegedly involving cartel members. The violence is suspected to be in response to the “alleged arrest of a priority objective,” according to Elizondo.
On Saturday afternoon, Zacatecas Minister of Public Security Gen. Adolfo Marín Marín posted a video to social networks stating that security had been reinforced throughout the region, some 90 arrests had been made and that “everything was under control,” as reported by Infobae.
The news website also reported that citizens were posting on social media networks about armed clashes, though that information was not confirmed. Infobae wrote that the clashes might have been “between members of the Sinaloa Cartel (CDS) and members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG).”
As of Monday morning, Governor Monreal had not issued any statements about the violence.