Some 150 followers of the United Front in Defense of Tepoztlán (FUDT) seized control of the town hall and took captive the mayor at the historic village in the central Mexican state of Morelos July 23. The mayor, Francisco Navarrete Conde of the center-left PRD, is being held to demand that the federal Communications and Transport Secretariat (SCT) halt plans to widen La Pera-Tepoztlán highway. The FUDT asserts that some 1,800 comuneros (communal farmers) whose ejidos (collective landholdings) would be impacted by the road expansion have not been consulted. The comuneros, armed with clubs, sucessfully routed municipal riot police guarding the town hall. Speaking to a reporter by phone from his protester-occupied office, Navarrete Conde expressed support for the demands of his captors, charging that the company with the road contract, Tradeco, “is violating the rights of the comuneros.” The company apparently has an agreement with the comuneros, but FUDT followers have challenged it as illegitimate, with a case over the matter pending before the Agrarian Tribunals. (La Jornada, July 23)
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