Government Critic Arrested on Drug Charges in Mexico

Twitter user Gustavo Maldonado was arrested and charged with minor drug-related offenses in Chiapas, Mexico on August 9. Apart from possessing and having sold small amounts of cocaine, not unusual for the area, Maldonado is a vociferous critic of local government.

Maldonado's Twitter handle @gumalo3105 and his profiles on Youtube and Facebook are highly critical of governor of Chiapas Manuel Vasco Coello. His arrest took place just hours after he shared a video on YouTube, exposing a corruption scandal related to local water supply services and other social problems. Maldonado was the administrator of the Anonymous Legion Chiapas YouTube channel, where he posted the video.

Local Mexican Twitter users launched a campaign #TodosSomosLegionChiapas (“We are all the Chiapas legion”) arguing that the arrest was a retaliation for Maldonado's opinions and online activities.

While his alias made him easily identifiable, Twitter users [es] and Información de lo nuevo [es], a blog based in the Yucatan peninsula, suggested that law enforcement officials had been monitoring Maldonado's activities using an online surveillance tool called “Black Eyed Hosting.” Police say they received an anonymous tip alerting them to Maldonado's whereabouts.

Authorities in the state of Chiapas have a long history of corruption and abuse of power. The state is known for the Zapatista rebel organization, which has since the 1990s advocated for better public services and stronger political representation for residents of the state, many of whom are indigenous. Although these efforts have garnered international attention for years, corruption and social inequality persist in the area.

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