SAN ANDRES LARRANZAR, Mexico – Indigenous Mexicans set fire on Saturday to a number of vehicles and attacked the houses of two municipal officials in protest against mosquito fumigation measures in San Andres Larrainzer, a city in the southern state of Chiapas over rumors that they could spread the new coronavirus.
This was the fourth protest this month by the indigenous people of the San Andres Larrainzar area against fumigation measures to control dengue mosquitoes, with houses and properties reported damaged in three other municipalities.
The mayor of San Andres Larrainzar, Teodulfo Perez, said around 500 people of the Tzotzil community had gathered to try and stop a squad spraying disinfectant as part of measures to control the mosquitoes.
During the violent protest, the locals set fire to police patrol cars, private vehicles and two properties: houses of the mayor and another municipal official.
“For some time, there have been a lot of rumors about the fumigation. We always inform people through a representative of each locality. This time we were not informed or notified by the government or the health department about carrying out fumigation and unfortunately a group of people went out of control, everything lost control,” said the mayor.
Armed with sticks and stones, the residents forced municipal workers to hand over their tools, which were destroyed even as the crowd demanded answers over the fumigation and sought the mayor’s presence.
A total of eight vehicles were burned down, six of them completely destroyed along with damage to two ambulances.
The Larrainzar primary community hospital was partially damaged, according to Perez.
The walls and glass doors of the hospital along with the furniture, medical equipment, a lab and both the emergency and regular patient wards – including the COVID-19 facility – were destroyed, and beds and stretchers were broken.
An estimated 26 of the 124 communities in the Chiapas have opposed fumigation arguing that the coronavirus disease spread through this activity, said Alam Campos Cruz, the deputy director of preventive medicine in the health secretariat in Chiapas.