TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico (AP) — A young farmer in southern Mexico set himself on fire outside the Chiapas state legislature building to demand the release of his father, an indigenous leader who was arrested last year on charges stemming from a series of demonstrations in 2011 that turned violent.
Agustin Gomez Perez, 21, lay down and allowed another protester to douse him with gasoline and set it alight Friday in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez. He was taken to a hospital, and his stepmother, Araceli Diaz, said Saturday that he was “serious but stable” condition with second- and third-degree burns.
Gomez Perez and other indigenous farmers have been protesting last year’s jailing of his father, Florentino Gomez Giron. The father is charged with murder, stealing cattle, organized crime and causing 39 families to flee the Ixtapa municipality as a result of leading indigenous protests in 2011 to demand improved basic services. The protests culminated in violence that included the destruction of police cars and the burning of the Ixtapa town hall.
The human rights office of the Chiapas state government issued a statement lamenting Gomez Perez’s immolation and saying it would seek to discourage “acts that put at risk the lives of protesters.”
Authorities said the father remains in prison.