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Chelem Conflict Continues Due To Authorities Inaction

by Yucatan Times
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(CHELEM Yucatan – The Yucatan Times) – Imagine one day deciding to leave everything behind. Selling your properties and setting out on the road to a new life, far from your homeland, your friends, and what you are used to. You settle down in a place famous for its peace, tranquility, hospitality, beautiful beaches with soft sand under your feet, and that relaxing smell of the sea. You buy or rent a property and feel joy and apprehension about the new life. You integrate into a new society and gradually make a fresh start, far from that homeland that saw you, in the dawn of your existence, grow and develop. Now in the twilight of life, you want to enjoy the peace you could not have for years. 

That could be the story of thousands of expatriates residing in Mexico and Yucatan ports. But, unfortunately, that peace and harmony have been broken and disturbed by a series of conflicts that, in one part, emanate from people, yes. But, still, on the other side, there is an even greater situation that currently has no solution: The enormous lack of law and order in the area. Let’s call it what it is. Authorities do not care.

In recent years, the coastal strip of Chuburná, Chelem, Progreso, and Chicxulub has been the scene of disputes, robberies, and transgressions. As a result, the Yucatán coast has become a conflict zone with a massive lack of interest from the authorities and where law and order no longer prevails.

Two years ago, The Yucatan Times reported on a conflict between foreigners in the Chuburna-Chelem area that escalated when an openly pro-Trump group expressed their hostilities towards Mexico, locals, and other foreigners not necessarily in favor of Trump’s policies.  Although in Mexico, freedom of expression is guaranteed in Articles 6 and 7 of the Constitution; and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and states that “no one has the right to prohibit or limit freedom of expression,” this right, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and share information and ideas, whether orally, in writing, or through new information technologies, is subject to further responsibilities expressly established by law.

In other words, it is one thing to express ideas and another to threaten, attack and break the law. But unfortunately, the dispute reached such a degree that this group of people was denounced to the authorities in the face of insults, intimidations, and verbal aggression. What happened with this issue? Absolutely nothing. Like much of what happens in this country and our state, it slept the “sleep of the just.”   

 When the mass media intervened, The Yucatan Times, Diario de Yucatan, Telesur, Yucatan al Minuto, and Por Esto, among others, and this group were exposed to public opinion, they closed their Facebook page and lowered the intensity of their attacks. Once again, the Chuburna-Chelem area returned to its usual peace. 

The Brunet case.
On March 26th, a group of people gathered to protest against the Canadian citizen Daniel Brunet, who allegedly had killed multiple dogs, and this demonstration ended in a violent act. Although the facts and the aggressions are deplorable, the authorities’ lack of action before this conflict is even more regrettable. The video shows that the police never did their job to serve and protect the citizens. There was no protocol to prevent things from getting out of control, and when they did, there was no protocol to dissuade or de-escalate the confrontation. 

 In interviews with those on both sides, things are becoming clear: No authority has taken action.  Some expatriates have decided to sell their properties and move. Others say they want to do the same, and others feel imprisoned in their homes because they are so afraid of being attacked by the Canadian, that they prefer not to go out. In the interview, I was able to confirm their feeling of terror and insecurity. Let me ask again: WHERE ARE THE AUTHORITIES?

 But what would happen if, given the inept passivity of the authorities, the situation with Brunet escalates? As a reference, it is essential to remember that in 2017, A mob of citizens brutally lynched Russian citizen Alexey Makeev in Cancun, annoyed and fed up with the foreigner’s transgressions toward the local population and the lack of interest on behalf of the authorities. Unfortunately, the result of that confrontation was the death of one of the participants and the Russian citizen on the verge of death. 

A couple of weeks after the protest where violence broke out, Mr. Brunet continues with his belligerent attitude, driving at high speeds on streets which are not made for that, using the train horn, openly confronting his neighbors, and with legal complaints that got nowhere. The question is: What are the authorities waiting for? An episode like the one in Cancun? People may not favor Canadian Daniel Brunet; however, regardless of the antipathies, he has two minors in his household who are not part of this problem and whose safety could be compromised. Let me ask again: WHERE ARE THE AUTHORITIES?

The critical question remains: What are the authorities waiting for, to solve this problem before it escalates to greater magnitudes? 

In The Yucatan Times, we contacted the office of Mr. Julian Zacarías 7 times. However, when we did get an answer, it was to give us the contact of another person named Jesus Trejo, who never responded to our request for even a phone call. Progreso authorities have not addressed the claims, nor have they dismantled this problem which has a solution. It is called the application of the law unless they want to fall into those levels of impunity that, at a national level, are at a shameful rate above 90%.

 Perhaps the mayor of Progreso, Mr. Zacarías, does not care about the conflicts of this community because foreigners do not vote. Still, maybe he forgets that local residents do vote and also are part of this conflict. 

So we ask again: What are the authorities waiting for? A problem so big that it could cause a significant incident? Time goes by, and nothing happens. Meanwhile, in Chelem, tempers continue to flare.

 Chelem survived two of the most ferocious hurricanes of the 20th century, Gilbert and Isidore. I am sure it will survive this storm. What may change radically is the desire of foreigners to settle in a place where authority is conspicuous by its absence, offering them no protection and no rule of law. 

For The Yucatan Times
Jose Urioste
Abril 4 2023

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