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Cancun police open fire on protesters, journalists leaving 4 injured

Cancun, Q.R. — Two people have been confirmed shot and two more injured after Cancun police opened fire against protesters and journalists outside city hall Monday night. Since then, Cancun’s Municipal Public Security Secretary has been fired and the state’s head of police, temporarily separated from his position.

On Monday night, dozens gathered at Plaza de la Reforma in front of Palacio municipal de Benito Juárez demanding justice for a young woman found murdered over the weekend.

On November 7, 20-year-old Bianca Alejandrina Lorenzana Alvarado was reported missing in Cancun. Two days later, the Attorney General of the State reported the discovery of her remains in the Vista Real neighborhood. Authorities said that her body showed “clear traces of violence” and that they would investigate the case as a femicide.

On Monday, a march through Cancun city streets was held with people demanding not only justice, but also for authorities to put a stop to the continued violence against women. On Monday night, a continuation of the day’s events saw protestors make their way to city hall where they set fire to the main entrance and wrote on the walls.

Cancun police and elements of the National Guard arrived and lined up to create a human barrier to prevent angry protesters from storming city hall offices.

From there, things took a turn for the worse when gunshots began to ring throughout the crowd as police used live ammunition to try and disperse protestors. When it was over, two people had been hit by police gunfire and two others were left with injuries allegedly caused by physical assaults by police. Two of the injured, Cecilia N and Roberto Antonio N, were journalists who were on scene covering the event.

On Tuesday, Cancun mayor Mara Lezama announced the dismissal of the Municipal Public Security Secretary, Eduardo Santamaría, after the repression of protesters. During a speech, she said that he had to be separated from his position immediately, since he was part of the operation where someone gave a counter order to her order hours before.

She added that videos of the incident are being reviewed to find out who participated and punish those who dispersed protesters by detonating gun fire.

On Tuesday morning, Governor Carlos Joaquin announced that “the information we have at this time refers to the fact that the director of the Municipal Police, Eduardo Santamaría, gave the instruction to shoot into the air.”

Carlos Joaquín condemned the intimidation and aggression against the protesters stating that, “I gave precise instructions of no aggression and no weapons in the marches that would take place Monday,” adding that an internal investigation is underway.

He explained that it was Santamaría who gave the order to shoot to disperse protesters who were trying to invade city hall offices in order to protect its public servants.

He remarked that additional police officers from the municipal corporation also participated in the incident for which he has requested Mayor Mara Lezama to immediately dismiss.

“The investigations will confirm whether the secretary of public security gave the same instruction to the director of the municipal police regarding what happened in Cancun.”

Police Chief Alberto Capella condemned the attack on Cancun protesters and also ordered an internal investigation, adding that his resignation was on the table since six police elements in his charge participated. He said “my face falls with shame” regarding the Monday night bullet attack during the citizen demonstration.

Capella noted he was out of state for personal reasons during the protest. “There was an absence of supervision in such an unfortunate situation that we are addressing today,” he said saying that police officers broke protocol. He said he heard “no less than 10 times the agents being told to comply, be careful, let people demonstrate. Those were the words of the Governor himself,” he explained.

Carlos Joaquín confirmed that, as part of the investigation, he ordered the dismissal of Eduardo Santamaría, head of the Municipal Police of Benito Juárez. “He (Santamaría) must leave his post so that the investigation can continue,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Carlos Joaquin announced the temporary separation of Police Chief Alberto Capella, from his position. On social media, Capella said “I greatly thank the Governor @CarlosJoaquin for the great opportunity and confidence to direct the security strategy at QRoo, his vision, leadership and support have been the key. This separation decision is to act with transparency in the investigations initiated.”

The governor has confirmed two protesters were physically injured and two others by gunfire, noting that it was not rubber bullets that were fired.

“This is not the time to blame or evade responsibility,” he said.