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03/21/2013

A black eye for San Miguel de Allende

If you travel occasionally to Mexico, certainly you have heard of San Miguel de Allende, the charming colonial city in Guanajuato state about three hours drive from Mexico City. According to this website, some 6,000 Americans, Canadians and other foreigners live permanently in San Miguel, giving it a cosmopolitan patina.

Not all is peace and love, though. A week ago, two Mexican brothers were visiting the town and local cops tried to rough them up. This is a 5-minute video that one of the young men shot through the window as a cop tried to pull the driver, who identified himself as a law student, from the car, first grabbing him, then hitting him in the groin and locking him by the neck to try to pull him from the vehicle. The police eventually tossed pepper gas to get the men out of the car. There's no explanation from the police of what they wanted. Near the end of the video, another officer approaches and tells them to stop taping the scene or that it would go "very badly" for them.

The video has gone viral. At the time I uploaded here, it's been seen by 270,000 or so people. Clearly Mexicans can related to abuse by police officers. Among those who saw the video on YouTube was Guanajuato Gov. Miguel Marquez Marquez, and he was not pleased.

This morning's Milenio newspaper says two of the four officers have been fired, and a probe may lead to more dismissals. San Miguel de Allende Mayor Mauricio Trejo Pureco is clearly worried about the consequences of the video. Earlier this week, he (@mauriciotrejop) tweeted that "my government will not tolerate abuse by authorities."

By the way, after the end of the tape, the police succeeded in getting the two brothers, Osvaldo and Alan Zuniga, out of the car. Alan Zuniga, 27, told reporters that police handcuffed him,threw him on the ground, took him to a station, stripped him and held him for 90 minutes (link in Spanish). The two brothers both had to pay 600-peso fines (roughly 50 bucks). Their car is still impounded.

San Miguel de Allende is still a lovely place. Certainly, this is atypical of life there. What's more, police are sometimes on the receiving end of terrible abuse as well. Remember the Ladies of Polanco case? If not, click here for my blog post.

 

 

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Tim J

For those reluctant to click on the link above from Janelle, please do yourself a favor and watch it. The crooked cops involved in the latest incident also apparently tried to shake down foreigners. The video testimony is of what appears to be an American woman whose residence was cleaned out by the cops. This is important for all those who reside in San Miguel or are thinking of buying there.

Jim Hatch

In 38 years of driving in Britain, I was never stopped by the police. In 11 years driving in Mexico, I've been stopped at least 10 times and usually ripped off. It's a form of taxation but of no benefit to the country.

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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