The ejido of Mitzitón (Foto: HR Centre Frayba)
On the 21st July, in the cooperative of Mitzitón, in the municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, a brutal attack resulted in the death of one person and left five injured. All of those affected were members of the tsotsil community and of ‘La Otra Campaña’, which is coordinated by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The confrontation occurred within the context of the current construction project that plans to build a motorway from San Cristóbal de Las Casas to Palenque that would run through the territory of Mitzitón, thus resulting in the possible removal of land owned by members of the cooperative.
The first conflict occurred on the 19th July when cooperative members, followers of ‘La Otra Campaña’, were insulted and threatened by a group of approximately forty people lead by Carmen Díaz López, who were armed with sticks, machetes and slingshots. The cooperative members were measuring their land when the group of forty people arrived, who stated that they had the backing and support of the government, and that the cooperative should shop measuring their land. In the morning of the same day, the aforementioned group of people had persecuted, threatened and detained cooperative member, Mauro Díaz Jiménez, and had actually placed a machete under his throat to threaten him.
It is worth mentioning that the majority of the cooperative members did not recognize anyone within the obstructing group of people, since they had not become involved in dealing with community issues. Carmen Díaz López was actually expelled from the community and removed of his land rights eight years ago for having been involved in the trafficking of undocumented individuals.
When a group of cooperative members arrived at the area of disputed land, at 9.30am on the 21st July, they were blocked by sixty people, who were armed with stones, sticks and slingshots. At that moment, a blue van arrived at the scene, driven by and containing collaborators of the obstructing group, which then ran over various members of the cooperative. In addition, the cooperative members were attacked by firearms and had one of their vans destroyed. The attacks resulted in the death of Aurelio Díaz Hernández, as well as various injuries suffered by Fernando Heredia Heredia, Javier Gómez Heredia, Raymundo Díaz Heredia, Jose Heredia Jiménez and Marcelino Jiménez Hernández.
Díaz López and other members of the obstructing group are parishioners of the evangelical religious organization “Alas de Águila” (noted for its quasi-military structure), whilst the cooperative members who are followers of ‘La Otra Campaña’ belong to the catholic faith. On various levels, both by local sources and by the state government, the conflict has been regarded as based upon religious differences. However, Human Rights defenders have presented an alternative understanding, which argues that the root of the conflict lies within the fight of the cooperative members against the construction of the motorway, which would be built over their land.
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