Crime & Justice

Mexican pres. slams violent police crackdown on Cancun anti-femicide protest

Mexico City, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- Mexico’s president on Tuesday denounced a heavy-handed police crackdown on an anti-femicide protest in the southeastern resort city of Cancun that left several people injured, including two journalists who were reportedly shot and wounded.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also called for a swift investigation to identify and punish those responsible for Monday evening’s violence.

“Our stance is the one taken by the Government Secretariat (interior ministry), which is that there needs to be an investigation (to) determine where the responsibility lies, to punish the guilty,” the president said at his daily news conference at the National Palace in this capital.

“Force should evidently not be used,” Lopez Obrador said. “You shouldn’t use weapons, fire gunshots. That’s authoritarian-type behavior that’s not in keeping with the times. So what we can say is no to repression.”

Municipal police fired gunshots as part of a violent crackdown on demonstrators outside Cancun’s city hall, according to the federal Government Secretariat (Segob).

“Different sources reported that a journalist was physically attacked by police in that city. At least one other was wounded by a gunshot and human rights activists were allegedly injured,” Segob said in a statement.

Local sources say a total of five people are believed to have been injured, three of whom were journalists who were covering the protest. Two of those journalists were allegedly wounded by gunfire.

Eight people were arrested but then released hours later at the request of Mara Lezama, mayor of the municipality where Cancun is located, the public safety secretary of the Caribbean coastal state of Quintana Roo, Alberto Capella, said Tuesday in an interview with Radio Formula.

The National Guard – a federal security force created after Lopez Obrador’s December 2018 inauguration – was not involved in the incident, the president said.

He expressed confidence that Quintana Roo’s state government will conduct a thorough probe and urged investigators to clarify what happened and not provide protection to anyone.

Lopez Obrador also called on the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, to open a file on the case, which has sparked anger in the Aztec nation.

Two femicides (gender-based killings of women) occurred last weekend in Cancun over a period of less than 24 hours, with the bodies being found on Saturday and on Sunday night.

On Monday, Quintana Roo state’s Attorney General’s Office confirmed the discovery of the body of 20-year-old Alexis, a woman whose birth name was Bianca Alejandrina Lorenzana Alvarado and who had been reported missing on Saturday.

Those murders – and outrage over the broader problem of gender violence in Quintana Roo – triggered the Monday afternoon protest in Cancun, where several groups of women set fires and spray-painted graffiti on the walls of several buildings, including the state AG’s office and Cancun’s city hall.

Separately, the CNDH on Tuesday demanded an “objective investigation” into the use of gunfire to disperse the anti-femicide protest.

“The National Human Rights Commission is calling on the relevant authorities to conduct an objective, prompt, independent and serious investigation so there is no impunity,” it said in a bulletin.

The CNDH said the two journalists who received gunshot wounds were Reyna Cecilia Solis and Roberto Becerril, adding that they work for Radio Turquesa and La Verdad, respectively.

It also urged the Mexican government to ensure that firearms will no longer be used as a “mechanism for dispersing public demonstrations.”

Human rights organization Amnesty International also called on authorities to clarify the incident.

“We demand to know who gave the order for the excessive use of force and lethal weapons and which police force participated, and (we call for) these human rights violations to be investigated and punished,” AI Mexico wrote on its Twitter account. EFE-EPA

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