On 6 June the governor of Mexico’s western state of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, issued a public apology for police repression of protesters, thousands of whom had demonstrated for three days over the death of a construction worker in police custody.
Alfaro, one of the most strident critics of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whom he accuses of mishandling the the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, is under intense pressure over the zero-tolerance approach of his state government, which critics claim has paved the way for abuse of power by the police in imposing strict restrictions.
- The catalyst for three days of protests was the death of a construction worker, Giovanni López, who was arrested on 4 May by municipal police officers in Ixtahuacán de Los Membrillos close to Guadalajara, the state capital. Video footage of López being bundled into a police van by heavily armed officers emerged on social media on 3 June. His relatives later found his body in a public hospital. He had suffered a bullet wound in his foot, and severe head injuries.
- According to his brother, López had been arrested for failing to wear a face mask in public. The state attorney general’s office insisted that the arrest was for“aggressive behaviour”. After protests against police abuses erupted late on 4 June outside state government offices in Guadalajara, Alfaro issued an apology for the “atrocity” and ordered a full investigation, but he also condemned the protests which he accused López Obrador, without providing any evidence, of instigating.
- Human rights groups subsequently denounced dozens of arbitrary arrests of protesters demanding justice for López, including some 80 youths who were bundled into vans right outside the state attorney general’s office, beaten, robbed, and driven to the outskirts of Guadalajara where they were dumped. Alfaro once again apologised for police repression, this time arguing that some renegade officers were colluding with organised criminal groups.
Alfaro is under pressure to take meaningful action, although the protests over police abuses are unlikely to be as large or as sustained in Jalisco as those seen in the US and beyond in recent days.
In brief: Mexican opposition demands information on World Bank loan
* Mexico’s opposition Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) has called on the federal government led by President Andres Manuel López Obrador to disclose more information about a US$1bn loan from the World Bank. The controversy emerged after local business newspaper El Economista reported yesterday that the Mexican government asked the World Bank for the loan on 19 May in order to support its response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and got the green light from the international lender on 31 May. However, deputy finance minister Gabriel Yorio has tweeted that the loan had not been contracted for any specific purposes. He said the development policy loan (DPL) was for the government’s general funding needs, and within the debt limits already authorised by the national congress.