Violent gang wants the cash
A tiny, impoverished nursery in southern Mexico has secured 20m pesos ($950,000) in cash after winning a national lottery. However, instead of enjoying their good fortune, parents of the nursery’s children are facing threats from a violent gang hoping to get their hands on the cash.
Cancun-based political analyst Rod Perez shared the news on Tuesday via a tweet:
An armed group called Los Petules has made life in indigenous Ocosingo a living hell for the families connected to the lottery-winning nursery. Gang members shot at a father in March, and violence escalated again in October when the gang attacked women and children, as reported by the BBC.
Los Petules have preyed on the families ever since September 2020, when news of the nursery’s lottery win went public. The gang supposedly wants more weapons in order to drive a rival paramilitary group out of the nearby village of El Carrizal, and has demanded the villagers use the lottery money to purchase firearms for them.
Families flee for their lives
The Mexico National Lottery handed responsibility for administering the prize to the parents’ association of the Chiapas state preschool, which cares for just over 24 young children.
Despite the paramilitary group’s demands, the parents’ association used the funds to build a new roof for the preschool. According to The Latin Times, the gang’s threats took a more sinister turn after the parents opted to use the remaining $658,119 on public works to improve their village.
The association said 28 families had no choice but to flee their homes in October, abandoning “cattle, our homes, refrigerators, our corn and bean harvests, our chickens” when the gang attacked women and children in the village.
Cry for help
A spokesman for the families, Melecio López Gómez, told El Heraldo de Chiapas on Monday: “We fear for our lives, we have death threats and they took all our belongings, the cattle we had are already being sold in the butchers, so it is urgent that the authorities disarm them, and no police are taking care of us.”
the families can not return to their homes
Gómez added that while the parents’ association “are planning actions” the families can not return to their homes until authorities deal with the paramilitary group.
Gang violence is common in Mexico. Paramilitary groups regularly try to recruit locals in their turf wars with rivals. In May, suspected drive-by killers shot two men dead outside a casino in San Luis Río Colorado, a city in the northwestern state of Sonora on the US-Mexico border.