MEXICO CITY – Teaching students in western Mexico’s Michoacan state are holding a police chief hostage, demanding the release of arrested fellow students, authorities said Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, in the indigenous village of Carapan, teaching students took Chilchota municipality police chief Alfredo Lucio Rios Chavez hostage after he approached them as they were setting fire to three vehicles – a passenger bus, a tractor trailer and a pickup truck – and having a confrontation with security forces.
Rios approached the angry students to “try to calm the kids down and they grabbed him as a hostage and took him away,” Chilchota Mayor Mario Silva told Radio Formula.
Earlier on Tuesday, security forces had arrested 49 of the students, who study at the Indigenous Normal School for teacher-trainees in the town of Cheran.
The students have been protesting and stealing vehicles – reportedly more than 100 over the past three months, and burning some of them – to demand automatic job placement upon graduation.
On Tuesday, the students took Rios to the community of Tacuro and then to Turicuaro, where they are currently holding him and where they have their “base” of operations.
The mayor said that he has had no direct communication with the students, but they are speaking directly to the Michoacan Interior Secretariat.
“During the course of the day, we’re going to see about the possibility that our director can be released,” said Silva, citing information he had been given by the state authorities.
In addition, the mayor said that the students had “attacked” Rios and “beat him up a little,” although he was not seriously hurt.
The vehicles the students burned on Tuesday come after they had burned three others – a truck, a pickup truck and a private car – in their protests in the town of Paracho to demand the release of their classmates