Theft of a bust from the historic center

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

On February 10 a commemorative bust of Don Manuel Zavala located on calle Sollano in front of the local radio station was stolen. The next day, the local government said that this regrettable theft occurred just one day after security in the historic center had been reduced. Days later, a video was uploaded to the internet showing the “kidnapped” sculpture.

Don Manuel Zavala, “San Miguel’s favorite son,” as the 2000–2003 local administration called him, was born in this municipality in 1927. He was known for his support of those most in need through his radio station Radio San Miguel and for airing for more than 45 years radio programs dealing with social issues, such as “Sucesos Sucedidos que sucedieron o están por suceder” (“Happenings That Happened or Are About to Happen”), a program that still exists and is hosted by Javier Zavala, Don Manuel’s son. Through this program sanmiguelenses find out about who is getting married, who was born or passed away and even who is getting divorced, along with other news about goings-on in the city. “El Cartero del Aire” (“The Postman of the Air”) was another program that used to transmit messages about letters addressed to members of the audience from relatives living elsewhere and messages from those living far away who were planning to call their relatives in San Miguel. Through the radio broadcast, listeners could find out where and when the call would come. Even if it does not fulfill all the same functions as in bygone years, the program is still transmitted daily early in the morning. Don Manuel received several recognitions from national organizations for his social work, and a road was named for him. He passed away in 2004. In 2006, the 2006–2009 administration paid tribute to Zavala by placing a bust on calle Sollano in front of the radio station.

Javier Zavala, in “Sucesos Sucedidos,” according to the local government, criticized the current administration for having excessive security officers in the historic center. Following the criticism, the local government reduced the numbers of patrolling officers. On February 11, early in the morning, the sculpture was taken. The local government said that the theft could have been due to the “social division” caused by the last administration and for alleged attacks from Radio San Miguel on the current administration. On March 15 a video was uploaded to the internet in which three men wearing Mexican wrestlers’ masks show the stolen bust and issue threats against Javier Zavala.

The host of the radio program said he regrets the theft of the bust and that this helped him to realize that there are still people who remember his father, because the population started donating unused keys to be melted down to create a new sculpture. Currently he and his family are working with the artist Dino Ficacci on the new bust, and it could be installed in the months to come. Zavala commented that the new sculpture will not have any special security systems because “I still believe in the safe city where I and others grew up.” Edgar Bautista, head of the local Urban Development Department, said that when the new bust is completed they must send a notice to the city council, which must approve its installation


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