Dispute Over Control of Market Incites Panic in San Cristóbal

From the Editor’s Desk

Several burned vehicles were left behind  following a confrontation between armed groups that sowed terror and panic for at least four hours, as they drove around the public road with their high-powered weapons without the security forces intervening, presumably due to the dispute over the administration of the market in the northern zone of San Cristóbal de la Casas, Chiapas.

Police sources said that the hooded subjects, who carried long weapons and some bulletproof vests, according to images transmitted on social networks, blocked the road to Chamula  shortly before noon with heavy vehicles and the south entrance to the north zone market.

In that part of the city, where a gas station and a department store are located,  customers were lying on the floor for several hours while  the delinquents burned tires which raised columns of smoke, while many residents took refuge in stores or left the area quickly.

The sources commented that the conflict originated because the administrator of the central market, whose name was not disclosed, allegedly beat a shopkeeper and did not comply with his commitment to pay for the damages, and so on Tuesday morning a group of people arrived to complain.

They said that a group of armed men on motorcycles, known as motonetos, immediately arrived and took control of the area, causing terror and anxiety, causing many residents to close their doors and lock themselves in, as well as fixed and itinerant vendors.

Employees of the health center in the northern zone, which is adjacent to the market, reported that while the shots were heard, either rockets or bullets, they remained lying on the floor to avoid risks.

The gunshots, interspersed with the explosion of rockets, were heard more intensely between 13:00 and 14:00 hours, after the armed men withdrew from the area and dozens of soldiers, National Guard agents and permanent police arrived took control and reestablished order.

During the night it was reported that a man identified as Salvador Perez Perez, 25 years old, died when he was being taken to the hospital de las Culturas, but this was not confirmed by the relevant authorities.

Mayor Mariano Diaz Ochoa, of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, affirmed that “from the first moment I requested the support of federal security forces, as well as of the General Secretary of the State Government and the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection to safeguard the integrity of the citizens near the conflict zone.”

He added that “the municipal police is of a preventive nature and does not have the tactical or fire capacity to confront these criminal groups,” hence he made an “emphatic call” to the relevant authorities to immediately issue the appropriate arrest warrants and “under no circumstances allow the right that we all have to live in peace and tranquility in our homes to be violated.”

This is not the first time that groups of men take to the streets displaying their weapons without the intervention of the security forces.

This article was published in La Jornada on June 15th, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/06/15/estados/grupos-armados-provocan-panico-en-san-cristobal-de-las-casas/ English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas.

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