An American woman has described being forced to “pay” a $50,000 fine for taking part in an illegal street protest in Mexico.
Santiago Villarreal, 27, said he was paid a $20,000 penalty for participating in a protest in the city of Cuauhtemoc on January 13, 2018.
“It was a demonstration of solidarity with the people of Cuarapa, the country of Cuatro Vásquez,” Villaral said.
“I was trying to demonstrate against a proposal by the state government to privatise the water company and the mining companies, but was also protesting the police crackdown on people.”
The protest was organised by the opposition Socialist Party (PSP) which organised a rally in which protesters chanted: “We are the people.
We demand water”.”
I started to take part of the demonstration, but my partner was arrested, as I was in Mexico for medical reasons,” Villardal told Al Jazeera.”
He was arrested with me, and they also took my passport.
I was forced to pay the fine, which was $20K.”
The whole process was quite unpleasant and humiliating.
“Villarreal said the government would not have been able to make a case for his arrest if he had not taken part.”
My case was rejected, because they could not prove I was a member of the PSP.
The authorities have no proof that I was part of any illegal group,” he said.
Villaral, who works as a construction engineer in the state of Tamaulipas, has been protesting for several months, with his partner as well as a few other protesters.
His partner has been arrested multiple times since October, and in February, the couple’s car was seized after they were stopped for running a red light.”
We were trying to stop the police from taking away our car.
They detained me for over two hours, took our passports, and put us in an empty police station for questioning,” Villarral said, adding that his partner was later released after being released on bail.
Villardal said he had to pay a $2,000 (£1,100) fine for the arrest and that the process took “four months” to complete.”
As a journalist, you can’t complain about the situation that you are working in, but you cannot complain about having to pay,” he added.”
If you don’t feel that you can do anything, you don.
It’s a situation that no one should have to live under.
“Socialist Party president Javier Duarte said that while the ruling party was not the one who had the right to pass judgement, “it’s wrong to deny the right of all of us to express ourselves and organise”.”
There are many people who have been arrested because of their political views,” he told Aljazeera.”
They have been forced to take bribes and be forced to leave their homes.
“There is a need for the state to intervene in this situation and make sure that the people are protected, that the police are protected and that all the institutions of justice are functioning properly.”
Duarte added that “any political party” that had the power to “make money out of political repression” should be punished.
“A party that is involved in a political struggle has to be punished,” he argued.
The Socialist Party has previously faced criticism for using the same slogan as the PSB during its campaign to form a coalition government in 2018.
The party has been criticized for a number of policies including its failure to condemn the killing of two women in a police raid in the town of Monterrey, in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila in October 2018.