MEXICO CITY – A 65-year-old retired teacher died early Wednesday, a day after suffering injuries when riot police cleared away protesters who tried blocking access to the airport in the resort city of Acapulco.
Guerrero Gov. Rogelio Ortega Martinez lamented the death of Claudio Castillo Pena in a statement released by the state. He called for dialogue and said the government had been as tolerant of the protests as possible, but had reached a limit.
The teachers, however, responded Wednesday by blocking highways leading into Acapulco.
On Tuesday, protesters drove a bus into police lines in the Pacific coast resort city, injuring seven officers, Mexican federal officials said.
The Interior Department said 15 protesters also were injured in the confrontation Tuesday evening, which came after thousands of protesters tried to block entrances to the Acapulco airport, prompting police to ferry tourists to the terminal in trucks.
When police tried to open the entrance roads, a protester drove the bus into them. The department said some protesters had been detained, but did not give a number. On Wednesday, the state prosecutor’s office said 106 people were detained during the protests, but only eight remained in custody.
State authorities did not give a specific cause of death for Castillo. But Federal Police Commissioner Enrique Galindo said on Radio Formula the preliminary medical report indicated injuries to his thorax and abdomen that could have been caused by “crushing.” Colleagues said he suffered injuries in the confrontation with police.
When the violence broke out, local police said they sheltered some airport-bound tourists at a local police station.
The estimated 4,500 demonstrators belonged to two radical unions protesting the Sept. 26 disappearance of 43 students. Those students were detained by police in the city of Iguala in the same state. The city police turned the young men over to a drug gang, which apparently killed them and incinerated their remains.
The governor said those protesting in Acapulco were not the families of the missing students, but rather radical members of a teachers’ union using the banner of that cause to vandalize.
Castillo was a founding member of the Guerrero teacher’s union known by its Spanish acronym CETEG.
Acapulco is hosting the Mexican Open tennis tournament, which was not interrupted. A small group of protesters arrived outside the site of the tournament earlier Tuesday but were quickly surrounded by police.
Acapulco hotel owners and businesses have complained that months of protests, bus hijackings and highway blockades related to the students’ disappearances have hurt Acapulco’s once-thriving tourism industry.