Angry farmers stormed a city hall in southern Mexico, seized the mayor and dragged him through town from the back of a pickup truck in protest, officials said Wednesday.
The incident occurred Tuesday when dozens of members of the Tojolabal indigenous community armed with clubs broke into the mayor’s office in the town of Las Margaritas in the state of Chiapas.
Witnesses told investigators they tied up the mayor, Jorge Luis Escandon, pushed him outside and tied him to the back of a pickup.
They then dragged him several dozen meters (yards) down the street, before police and public employees intervened and freed Escandon, who survived without major injury.
The mayor accused his attackers of trying to extort him.
“Around 50 or 60 people came in three pickup trucks, armed with clubs and looking to kidnap city officials to extort us and get what they’ve always wanted: to be given money,” he told AFP.
“They started struggling, carrying me, tied up one foot and dragged me out of my office to the street,” he said.
State prosecutor Jorge Luis Llaven said the attackers were demanding more public resources, including direct cash transfers, for their rural community, Santa Rita El Invernadero.
Leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has introduced a policy of providing public assistance in the form of cash payments to beneficiaries, in order to stem corruption by cutting out bureaucratic middlemen.
Eleven people were arrested and a dozen injured in the melee. Chiapas state police were also sent to help restore order in Las Margaritas, a town of 20,000 people near Mexico’s border with Guatemala.
This is not the first time farmers from Santa Rita El Invernadero have staged a violent protest. Four months ago, they vandalized the town hall, demanding that Escandon fulfill promises he had made during the 2018 campaign.