SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico — Police shot and killed three peasant protesters Saturday during a clash over corn prices in the southeastern state of Chiapas, a peasant leader said.
Peasant leader Juan Carlos Aguilar said police opened fire on the protesters as helicopters whirled overhead and dropped tear-gas canisters during the predawn clash near Venustiano Carranza.
At least one man was hospitalized with serious injuries in the city of Comitan, Aguilar said. He said federal army troops were also involved in the clash.
Chiapas state government spokesman Fermin Rodriguez could not immediately confirm the report of the deaths. He said state police had planned to break up roadblocks by peasant protesters throughout the state, but that army troops did not take part.
Peasants throughout the state have been protesting for several days in the capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez and in other regions, demanding a doubling in the base price for corn to about $315 a ton.
Farmers say the government-guaranteed price of about $160 a ton is not enough to cover the producers' costs.
Aguilar said the three victims were from Venustiano Carranza, about 30 miles south of here.
Nearly 200 police and federal troops continued to guard the area Saturday afternoon, inspecting vehicles for weapons. Burned debris littered the area.
The state government said protesters destroyed 50 vehicles and burned another.
Venustiano Carranza has a long history of violent peasant protests.