On May Day nearly a thousand police officers in Acapulco, located in the Guerrero state, who had been on strike for 14 days, marched through the main streets of the port city and joined the larger May Day parade.
Drug cartel wars and related violence have hit the state Guerrero especially hard and have made working conditions for police officers particularly difficult.
The policemen carried dozens of cardboard signs expressing their discontent.
“We are not boycotting any parade. We are participating as one; we have needs and we want the people to support us and hear us,” said Jose Alberto Solis Franco, representative of the police and firefighter union.
Solis insisted that his union wants to work and there is a solution to this conflict.
Police officers demonstrated before and during the parade, which began at 10 am, along with some 300 supporters outside a Labor Party (PT) presidium, located near the Acapulco Boardwalk.
Genaro Vazquez Flores, leader of the PT group Guerrero en Lucha, said about Labor Day, “There is nothing to commemorate in Guerrero. People have no work, no jobs, and workers are being displaced by foreign companies.”
On April 23, the Mexican Department of Defense disarmed the municipal police, who have been on strike for a month, to prevent the misuse of equipment. The officers had originally asked for better benefits, including a twenty percent salary increase, life insurance, Social Security benefits, 8-hour workdays, bonuses, new uniforms and overall improved working conditions.
The municipal government has failed to meet the demands of the striking police, who work for the Ministry of Public Security, simply because there is no financial resources, as repeatedly stated by Acapulco Mayor Luis Aburto Walton, with whom the strikers have met several times.
In response to the striking officers, the mayor has ordered federal and state forces to patrol the tourist areas of the port city. Moreover, in the absence of local police, the city has instituted surveillance brigades.
On the previous weekend, local police protesters ordered administrative workers to clear the offices of the Municipal Public Secretariat, in order to demand the departure of their immediate boss, head of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (SSPPC) Alfredo Álvarez Valenzuela, deferring the original ten petitions they had to make their arrests.
Álvarez Valenzuela has claimed that outside forces have infiltrated the protests, which have become more about his removal than the original demands of the striking officers.
The head of SSPPC is accused of harassment and deprivation of civil liberties, including the illegal detention of prisoners. According to human rights lawyer Jesus Antonio Lemus Beltran, Álvarez Valenzuela "did not allow them to go to the bathroom and just gave them half an hour to eat their food ."
"The offenses committed by the secretary of public safety is violation of human rights,” he added.
In response to these demands, Mayor Walton insists that Álvarez Valenzuela will not be removed from office.