In Guererro on the eve of the anniversary of the Mexican revolution, schools were ordered closed today – not in celebration, but under threat of violence against students. The province in southern Mexico made headlines last year after the disappearance of more than 40 student-teachers.
From a café in Acapulco, Guardian reporter David Agren talks with the Standard about who made these new threats and why.
“What tends to happen is that the teachers get extorted … criminals will ask for a cut of their paychecks or there will be threats of robbery against the school,” Agren says. “Parents withdraw their students and schools will close… Some schools are open now with gendarmes and the federal police.”
In addition to schools, poorer areas without much police presence also see kidnapping, extortion and small-time drug dealing, Agren says.
“Everyone gets targeted, that’s the unfortunate thing here,” he says.
It hasn’t even been a month since the new state governor, Héctor Astudillo, took office with the promise of creating “peace and order” but Agren says he hasn’t seen much change yet.
“The early signs have been very discouraging,” Agren says. “There’s been a lot of protests again with the students from Ayotzinapa … federal police have been starting to crack the whip when they see those protests occurring again.”
Agren says he’s not aware of any attacks on tourists and tourist districts have a noticeable police presence along the main strip called La Postera, with police trucks rolling by the café he’s stationed.
“There has been a neglect of the zonas populares – the area where are the maids, gardeners, waiters all those people live,” he says. “It’s really at times gotten out of control.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.