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AMLO Says He Will ‘Rescue’ Toll Booths From Protesters In Sonora

After Mexico’s National Guard successfully removed protesters from toll booths in other states, the president says they’re coming for Sonoran protesters next.

Members of the Sonoran Free Transit Movement have been shutting down the toll booths across the statefor more than two years now — arguing that the sometimes hefty fees are unconstitutional.

Volunteers with the movement stand outside the toll booths every day, allowing drivers to pass without paying the fees and asking for donations for their cause. They have also met with federal leaders to work toward ridding the state of toll booths, or allowing locals to pass freely.

But now Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his administration is “rescuing toll booths" from protesters he claims demand payment and threaten travelers.

"We have just carried out, and it was a success, an operation to liberate the toll booths in Sinaloa," he said during a press conference Monday. "Now we're coming for Sonora, because it's the same. And they aren't just shutting down toll booths, charging, but they threaten people, there is violence. So we're putting order to the chaos."

Leaders with the Sonoran Free Transit Movement responded with a statement refuting claims of violence or that they charge drivers to pass through the toll booths, and calling the president's actions repressive. Instead, they said, they have spent years now trying to work with the current administration to end what they see as a corrupt and illegal practice.

"In Sonora we have proposed solutions," the statement reads. "But despite our insistence and attempts to get an answer to resolve this conflict, we haven't had any success, and it's just a lack of will from the federal government."

The statement goes on to say it's clear that López Obrador has turned his back on anti-corruption movements like theirs that helped him get into office.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.