The students and local residents want a park on the large piece of land, not the luxury high-rise buildings planned by developers.
Many in Guadalajara were angry at the harshness of the charges against Iván Cisneros, Javier Armenta and José Rojas.
“The outrageous abuse of power against three young people holding a peaceful protest…has reached a dangerous level that demonstrates a lack of boundaries and principles,” wrote Cesar Barba, the director of higher education at the University of Guadalajara. “Anyone who seeks justice risks going to jail.”
The topic is sensitive because the large lot in question was owned by the city and earmarked for a public park. But in a shady 2008 transaction, it was ceded to developers in exchange for public works projects that local media reported were never completed.
Mexico’s cash-strapped municipalities sometimes make such land-for-build deals, but they are rarely transparent. And real estate developers can exert excessive influence and act unchecked in Mexico.
Calls and messages to the developers’ offices for comment went unanswered.
But the focus soon shifted to Enrique Alfaro, the governor of the state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, given the zeal of prosecutors.
Alfaro posted a statement late Monday saying the allegations were justified but that he would try to get the students released on bail pending trial.
“No one has been arrested for protests,” Alfaro said, noting “the land that these young people say is a park is not a park, it’s private property.”
But the civic group Hagamos Jalisco said in a statement that the 2021 protest was peaceful.
“The demonstration included reforesting the area, passing information to neighbors and camping in the area,” the group said. “They were later expelled with excessive force.”
Detaining the students until the date of their trial later this week “is a disproportionate measure based on the lie that they had guns,” the group said.