Mexican national guard evicts protesters illegally charged cars to pass

A National Guardsman at one of eight plazas cleared of protesters. Photo: Mexico News Daily. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MEXICO, Sep 29, 2020, Mexico News Daily. The National Guard (GN) led an operation on Sunday that evicted protesters at eight highway toll plazas in Nayarit. In coordination with state police, a GN anti-riot team forcibly removed protesting farmers at one toll plaza on the Tepic-Mazatlán highway after they continued to refuse to leave after two hours of dialogue, Mexico News Daily reported.

Farmers who say that they haven’t been compensated for the expropriation of land for construction of the highway have occupied the Trapichillo toll plaza since November 2018, charging cars and trucks 50 pesos and 100 pesos, respectively, to pass.

Ten farmers were arrested during the operation to remove them, according to the Nayarit Security Ministry, but none was injured.

The GN announced on Twitter that it had evicted protesters at eight toll plazas, stressing that dialogue was favored as the “first option” to solve the conflict.

“Thanks to the common sense of the people who were protesting we were able to carry out an operation without complications,” the security force said.

The eight toll plazas were Ruiz, Acaponeta, Trapichillo, Matanchén, Santa María del Oro, La Cantera, Compostela and Amado Nervo.

In addition to state police, the GN received support from the army, the navy and personnel from the Nayarit Human Rights Commission, the federal Security Ministry (SSPC) said in a statement.

The operation came six days after President López Obrador ordered the GN to remove people who are illegally collecting tolls from motorists in Nayarit.

The SSPC said that authorities carried out the operation with full respect for the protesters’ human rights.

A Nayarit farmers’ association is demanding that compensation be paid to 600 community landowners in the municipalities of Acaponeta, Ruiz and Tecuala. According to a report by the newspaper Milenio, the farmers’ group is asking for 300,000 pesos (US $13,500) to be paid to each of the landowners for each of the 14 years since the Tepic-Mazatlán highway was built.

But the company that build the highway, a subsidiary of Grupo Financiero Inbursa, has only agreed to pay 200,000 pesos to each landowner for the entire 14 years the road has been in operation.

Unhappy with the offer, the farmers have occupied toll plazas for months and in some cases years.

The Association of Road Infrastructure Concessionaires says that billions of pesos in toll revenue has been lost due to the protests.

Media reports suggest that a group of people occupying a toll plaza can collect more than 1 million pesos (about US $45,000) per day.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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