Expats explode after video shows a foreigner’s rage against neighbor

Other foreign residents worry that the man's actions reflect an entire community of extranjeros living in Yucatán

A neighbor vandalizes a palapa under construction in Sisal, a still from a Facebook video indicates.
A neighbor vandalizes a palapa under construction in Sisal, a still from a Facebook video indicates.

Video of a resident trying to burn down a neighbor’s palapa has set off a social media firestorm. And for the expat community in Yucatán, learning that the violence came from a foreign resident stung.

The state prosecutor’s office has begun an investigation into a conflict between neighbors in Sisal that devolved into property damage, vulgar insults and threats aimed at the builders of the thatched overhang near the property line.

The apparently U.S. resident in Sisal attempted to burn his neighbor’s palapa while verbally abusing workers — in English — several videos circulating on social media show.

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The owners of the palapa filed an official complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office in Hunucmá. The foreigner has not commented publicly as of Sunday morning.

Local media have played up the fact that the man under investigation is a foreigner. Some outlets, which normally name suspects by their initials, are publishing his full name.

Expats on social media were aghast and mortified, with many calling for his deportation.

“What a horrible person! Please do not think that the rest of us foreigners are anything like this jerk. We respect Mexico and its people. Call the police and take care,” wrote a Yucatán resident from California.

“People have to remember that we are guests in Mexico,” a Philadelphia native living here said.

Not every response was so measured. The invective got so heated that Facebook flagged two comments for hate speech and removed an entire post, according to one group administrator.

Yaneli Flamenco, whose family was building the palapa, that the man had previously threatened them with a shotgun over a lighting fixture that was installed on a shared wall. She characterized the man as well known in Sisal as an armed racist.

Conflicts between foreigners and local residents have cropped up before, especially along the coast, where homeowners have tried to privatize their adjoining beach.

Sisal is one of the four Magic Towns of Yucatán, along with Maní, Valladolid and Izamal.

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