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Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 2:28 pm

Farmers Took 15 Hostage To Protest New Mexico Arpt

Mon Jul 15, 2002 2:16 am

What do they do when their flights are delayed?(or bags lost)

SAN SALVADOR ATENCO, Mexico, July 13 -- Farmers armed with machetes and homemade bombs took three more hostages today, demanding talks with federal officials in a standoff over construction of a new Mexico City airport.

Fifteen people are now being held by about 1,000 protesters who have barricaded themselves in a government building in this town on the outskirts of the capital since Thursday.

The hostages, who were paraded in front of the protesters today, said they were being treated well but feared for their lives if police tried to raid the town.

"I call on my superiors, on state officials, and on President [Vicente] Fox not to abandon us," said a municipal prosecutor who has been held since Thursday.

About 750 officers in riot gear have taken up positions around the town and on nearby highways, where traffic has been at a standstill since protesters blocked roads with burned-out cars and stolen tractor-trailers.

The farmers have threatened to kill the hostages by tying them to three hijacked gasoline tanker trucks and setting the trucks on fire if police try to end the standoff. The farmers have demanded the release of 15 protesters arrested during a previous confrontation. Three of them have been freed, but 12 others remained in jail.

Protesters said the three men taken hostage today were state police officials posing as reporters. A spokeswoman at the state prosecutor's office said she had no information.

Fox's government has largely stayed out of the clash except to say that the construction of a new $2.3 billion, six-runway airport on 11,000 acres of land will proceed as planned.

The project would require much of San Salvador Atenco and nearby communities.

The government's expropriation order gives residents as little as 60 cents per square yard of land, a price residents say is too low.

Many said they oppose construction of the airport no matter what they are offered.

Interior Minister Santiago Creel said Friday that federal officials would negotiate with any groups willing to reach an agreement, but he said Fox would "act with a firm hand to avoid an increase of violence in the country."

Mexico City's existing airport, a 91-year-old facility on the eastern edge of the sprawling capital, is hemmed in by homes and businesses and cannot be expanded. Only one runway can be used at a time.

The siege began after more than a dozen people were injured and 15 were arrested during earlier clashes between anti-airport protesters and police.

Mexico State Attorney General Alfonso Navarrete has said nine more protesters could be freed on bail.

Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Farmers Took 15 Hostage To Protest New Mexico Arpt

Mon Jul 15, 2002 3:06 am

Should specify that this is an airport in Mexico....Not New Mexico.

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