Demonstration for and against Coppel

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

“Out of the Historic Center!” protesters cried in front of Coppel store while construction workers showed placards asking the activists to learn about the project before complaining.

Protege San Miguel, a citizens’ group, called a peaceful demonstration against the construction of Coppel, located on calle Codo on May 5. The protesters wore white clothing. At 5pm the group expressed that they are not against the store, but its location because it does not fulfill the regulations to respect the buffer zone of the World Heritage Area, the regulations of the historical monuments zone nor the Regulation of Zoning and Land Use, which prohibits franchises to be located within the historic center. Demonstrators said that the construction should be out of the historic center.

Because of the absence of Coppel representatives, the construction employees faced the protest with another demonstration displaying banners that stated, “Coppel is not a franchise, but a Mexican family company.” “Currently, Coppel supports 70 families and will generate more employment.” The employees also wanted to prove that they were sanmiguelenses and showed their official IDs to Atención. José M., who was representing Coppel employees, said they would comment on the matter.

Protege San Miguel handed over a letter to one of the employees. It was addressed to Francisco Agustín Coppel Luken, owner of the company. In the letter, the members of the group express the reasons why Coppel cannot be located in that area and invited Luken to hold a public meeting to inform residents about the company’s legal reasons to open there. The letter is also an invitation to local authorities to state the reasons why they changed the land use from housing to commerce.

Former mayor Luz María Núñez also attended the demonstration and told Atención that she was supporting the sanmiguelenses’ thoughts about local authorities not respecting the law to protect the World Heritage zone. She remarked that during her administration, Coppel started the process to construct the store there, but instead she offered them some alternative location outside of the Historic Center, so they did not open. “I am surprised that Édgar Bautista, the same head of Urban Development that I had in my administration authorized this, he knows the law,” said Núñez. The former mayor also urged local authorities to read the law before authorizing developments and invited them to listen to the citizens “as I did when the McDonald’s case emerged,” she highlighted.

Núñez’s attendance was not well received by activists such as Arturo Morales who said that some politicians use this kind of public event—that has nothing to do with politics—for seltf-promotion and political candidacy. After the demonstrators started leaving, Protege San Miguel announced an informative meeting to be held on Friday, May 16, at 11am at el Sindicato on Recreo 4.

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