Allegations filed by street vendors in Progreso complain that police officers are demanding a cut of their income.
“They are asking us for 500 pesos to allow us the privilege to work,” Adiel Alejandro C.R. a candy vendor on the malecón, told Diario de Yucatán.
According to media reports, police officers in Progreso are also targeting street beggars in both Mérida and Progreso.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that Yucatán has laws on the books making it illegal to sell goods on city streets, giving police legal ammunition to make good on their threats.
There is no count of how many street vendors and beggars currently operate in Yucatán, but the number is easily in the thousands.
For the time being this practice does not appear to have been used on a wide scale against larger, established businesses in Mérida or Progreso.
However, in Tizimín in the east of the state, there is growing concern that corrupt police officers are becoming entangled with organized crime.
“I have received several calls from people claiming to be police or members of organized crime orgnizations. They ask for money and make threats against myself, my family and my business,” an anonymous informant said to Por Esto.
Most drivers in Mexico also are likely to have several stories of encounters with police requesting bribes in lieu of fines for traffic infractions — real or otherwise.
Yucatán’s long-serving state police chief, Luis Felipe Saidén Ojeda, did not comment on the complaints and has typically addressed such incidents internally.
Social scientists studying the phenomena of police corruption in Mexico often note that the problem stems at least in part from low wages and difficult working conditions.
A state police officer in Yucatán earns an average of roughly 11,000 pesos a month, (US$540) according to datamexico.org
According to a recent federal study, corruption in Yucatán costs the state 9.5 billion pesos a year, the highest in the entire country.