Angry Residents Jail Mayor in Mexico
Monday August 9, 2004 3:31 AM
SAN JUAN CHAMULA, Mexico (AP) - Hundreds of enraged residents of this impoverished Indian community locked the mayor and three other municipal officials in jail Sunday, claiming they embezzled funds from public works projects.
The angry crowd gathered Sunday morning to capture San Juan Chamula Mayor Juan Gomez, the municipal treasurer and two town council members.
The township, located just outside San Cristobal, 460 miles southeast of Mexico City, has a long history of religious violence between a majority Catholic population and evangelical Protestants. But Sunday's unrest appeared to be motivated by corruption allegations.
Residents claim there is evidence that municipal authorities allied with the Institutional Revolutionary Party falsified documents to create phantom construction projects - including cisterns, rural roads and playing fields - that were never built, said their representative, Juan Lopez.
From behind bars, Gomez defended the town's spending on public works. He said he and his colleagues had been physically beaten and pleaded for help from state authorities.
State police approached San Juan Chamula on Sunday evening but stationed themselves about a mile outside town so as not to provoke the crowd.