Mexican farmers hold police, guard hostage in land dispute

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — About 44 police, detectives and members of Mexico’s National Guard are apparently being held hostage by a group of farmers in a land dispute, the Interior Secretary of the southern state of Oaxaca said Thursday.

Francisco García López said the farmers are holding the officers until the government agrees to return farmland they say belongs to them.

The officers do not appear to have been mistreated so far, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said “they are negotiating, but they have not been taken hostage.”

Residents of the village of Santiago Textitlán seized about 24 police and 20 guard officers Tuesday. They say they were forced off the land last year by assailants who have not been identified.

García López said “we are going to continue negotiating. There will be no use of force.”

Many farms in southern Mexico are held under common title by communities, but boundary disputes are common and can last for decades.

López Obrador has consistently ordered troops not to engage in confrontations, even when those involve drug traffickers and even when it means they are held against their will for brief periods. In 2019, the president ordered the release of a detained drug lord to avoid bloodshed.

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