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City Hall Takeovers in Dwindle

November 29, 1988

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Opposition party supporters who seized 30 city halls throughout Michoacan state during the weekend still occupied five municipal buildings late Monday, state officials said.

Michoacan state spokesman Armando Palomino said activists voluntarily left most of the city halls. But the Excelsior news service quoted other opposition activists as saying police and military forces drove many away.

Salvador Guzman, a spokesman for the State Attorney General’s Office, on Monday denied that police were sent to end the occupations, saying ″it was the army.″

Army officials in the Michoacan state capital of Morelia refused comment.

The city halls were seized by supporters of the National Democratic Front on Saturday to demand the ouster of Michoacan Gov. Luis Martinez Villicana, a member of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party.

No injuries were reported either during the takeovers. Palomino said five town halls remained occupied but he didn’t know which.

Ricardo Saldana, Michoacan spokesman for the PRI, as the ruling party is known, confirmed Monday that the state dispatched troops to prevent more city hall takeovers.

Saldana said small groups of soldiers were sent to ″protect″ city halls first occupied by Democratic Front supporters on Saturday. He said troops also were dispatched to prevent activists from taking over other city halls.

Front activists said they were occupying the city halls to press their demands that Martinez Villicana resign. The governor was elected to a six- year-term in 1986.

But Palomino said some activists told officials ″they were invited to take over the installations to support Cuauhtemoc Cardenas when he assumes the presidency on Dec. 1.″

The Democratic National Front supported Cardenas in his unsuccessful July 6 bid for the presidency. PRI candidate Carlos Salinas de Gortari won the presidency in the disputed election and is to take office Thursday.

A statement signed by the Democratic National Front’s 13 federal deputies and two senators representing Michoacan called Martinez Villicana’s administration ″the most immoral, demogagic and unworthy in the entire history of the state,″ according to Monday’s edition of the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada.

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