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Guatemala: Mob Burns Mayor Alive After Shooting of Opposition Candidate

An angry mob of hundreds dragged the mayor of an indigenous town in rural Guatemala out of his home and burned him alive after burning down at least six buildings, police say. The event occurred in the immediate aftermath of a shooting attack against an old political rival.

Bacilio Juracán Leja, who had just begun his third term as mayor of Concepción, Sololá state, stood accused by the crowd of planning an attack on Lorenzo Sequec Juracán (no relation), an opposition candidate who had lost against him. As news of the shooting, which left Sequec’s 17-year-old daughter and 16-year-old niece dead, spread around the town, a mob formed and began attacking the homes of various relatives of the mayor. The crowd reportedly burned down each home they encountered upon not finding Juracán there until reaching him personally. Upon finding him in his home, the crowd beat him and burned him alive.

By the time Guatemala’s National Civil Police arrived in the remote town, the mayor was dead.

The lynching has left many in the town concerned for their safety and the stability of their community, as the police have not yet arrested anyone for the crime. Nor have police found the culprits in the shooting of Sequec, who remains hospitalized, but reports claim twelve people stopped his pickup truck on a nearby road and began shooting until the two teen girls were dead. During his campaign against Juracán, Sequec had called for a corruption investigation against the mayor, and it is commonly believed the shooting was organized by Juracán despite the police saying they have no evidence to prove this yet.
The town lost six buildings in the lynchings, including residences, a restaurant, and an Internet café. At least two cars have been documented as being burned up by the crowd. The police have yet to give more information than this, reporting that the town remained mostly closed on Monday, with business owners fearful that opening up shop and drawing attention to themselves would attract another violent crowd. Town Hall also did not open, and there is no indication the government is doing anything to clean up the mess left by the various fires.

 

Guatemala is among the most violent nations in the world not currently engaged in a war. Deutsche Welle reports that an estimated 15 murders occur in the nation on a daily basis, according to the Mutual Support Group, an NGO working in the region. Lynchings of public officials remain rare, however. Such events are more common, the newspaper proposes, in countries like Bolivia, where the Constitution allows for the concept of “community justice.” While the law does not allow for vigilante killings explicitly, several lynchings have occurred in Bolivia in which the perpetrators attempted to use the constitutional provision to declare their violence legal.

Guatemala is also undergoing significant political turmoil, as its legislature removed the president on a number of corruption charges, prompting an unexpected election won by comedian Jimmy Morales. Morales is expected to win a run-off vote on October 25, which will cement his victory.

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