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Opposition Supporters Occupy Michoacan City Halls

November 27, 1988

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Opposition party supporters seized city halls throughout the state of Michoacan and demanded the resignation of the governor, a member of the ruling party, officials said Sunday.

Democratic Front supporters occupied 19 city halls Saturday afternoon to force the ouster of Gov. Luis Martinez Villicana, according to a state government statement. Villicana is a member of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The government newspaper El Nacional quoted Marciano Razo Amezcua, leader of the Democratic Front in Michoacan, as saying that Villicana had ″squandered the public treasury″ and ″fomented political hatred″ in the southwestern state.

The newspaper quoted Razo Amezcua as saying the seizures were unrelated to the Dec. 1 inauguration of President-elect Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Salinas was the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s victorious candidate in the bitterly contested July 6 elections, which opposition leaders said were plagued by fraud.

The presidential runner-up, Democratic Front candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, won the most votes in Michoacan, his home state. Although the governing party has not lost a presidential election since it was founded in 1929, its margin of victory in the last election was its smallest ever.

An official in the Michoacan state press office paper said the city halls were seized by members of the Authentic Revolutionary Party, part of the Democratic Front coalition. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition his name be withheld, said there had been no violence.

″We are negotiating with them, even bringing them food,″ said the official, speaking by telephone from Morelia, the state capital about 130 miles west of Mexico City.

The official said that the municipal buildings seized were all in small towns and that most of the occupying groups also were small. He said only 10 people were at the city hall in Tocumba but about 800 had occupied the building at Zacapu.

It was unclear Sunday how many city halls remained occupied. Police in Tocumba and Jiquilpan said that their city halls were not occupied Sunday afternoon, but that crowds were gathered outside. The state official in Morelia said that several attempted occupations had failed.

″State authorities will not and cannot accept this insane pressure, nor any other provocation,″ state government secretary Genevevo Figueroa Zamudio said in a statement.

Figueroa Zamudio accused opposition supporters of releasing prisoners from some city jails and said he thought the seizures only were the first of a series of ″provocations″ planned by the opposition.

What the opposition wants, said Figueroa Zamudio, ″is to provoke a vigorous response from authorities that could be painted as repressive, thus making themselves martyrs and victims.″

″That they will not get,″ the statement said.

Opposition senator Cristobal Arias said the only objective of the protests was to achieve Martinez Villicana’s dismissal, the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada reported.

The magazine Proceso, which frequently criticizes the government, ran an article on Martinez Villicana in its latest issue, dubbing him ″the unpopular governor of Michoacan.″ He was elected in 1986 to a six-year term.

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