Chiapas: Resurgence of the agrarian conflict between the neighboring municipalities of Chenalhó and Chalchihuitán

June 10, 2014

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Recently, the territorial and agrarian conflict between the municipalities of Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó has worsened once again. It’s linked to a dispute over more than 900 hectares located in the boundaries between the two entities. It’s an old conflict that started in 1973 with the work of recognition and certification of the common lands of both villages by the former Department of Agrarian Reform–at present, the Ministry for Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development (SEDATU). When the measurements were made, the limits respected by both villages (the river as a natural boundary) were not taken into account. As a result, and intermittently, tensions have appeared, some that the populations attempted to resolve in court, others that led to theft, destruction of crops, land invasions, and even murder (2008).

On May 13, officials of the state government and of SEDATU decided that Chenalhó should receive a compensation of 15 million pesos in exchange for giving the lands in dispute to Chalchihuitán. On May 15, the residents of the municipality of Chenalhó rejected the payment. They entered the disputed land and destroyed several landmarks marking the boundaries. Several witnesses report that shots were heard, although no injuries were reported. Both sides accuse each other of using firearms.

On May 28, the Parish Council of Chenalhó called on the parties “to put aside every word and every action that can lead to violence and to realize that this conflict between brothers should be resolved through peaceful dialogue.” They asked the three levels of government to recognize that “this problem is due largely to their own irresponsibility.” They invited them to realize “that not everything can be fixed with money as they think. The authorities must understand what justice should be the first to respect the laws so as to set an example for the people. They should be open to respectful dialogue and should be aware that they can not solve any problem if they do not allow free and responsible participation of the people.”

On May 22, the Las Abejas Civil Society also referred to the land problem between Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó, noting: “If the called Agrarian Reform (now defunct), had not made a bad execution in defining the territorial limits, there wouldn’t be problems between the two Tzotzil peoples. We regret that this old conflict has not been resolved to date, because, sadly, political and economic interests of the same agrarian and municipal authorities and of some private individuals interfere to do so. Instead of resorting to wisdom and the ancestral mode of dialogue to solve problems between brothers, they have chosen the path of institutional dialogue that always end up manipulated politically and economically. Hopefully someday those who still believe in evil government will understand that the conflicts and political differences that have led to killings and massacres in our villages have been planned and fostered from above, by the bad government itself. “

For more information (in Spanish):

Conflicto territorial Chenalho – Chalchihuitan, retroceso de 7 años (Chiapas Paralelo, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Iglesia llama a privilegiar el diálogo (Cuarto Poder, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Pronunciamiento de la parroquia de Chenalhó (28 de mayo de 2014)

Comunicado de la Sociedad Civil Las Abejas (22 de mayo de 2014)

Entran comuneros de Chenalhó a terreno en disputa con vecinos de Chalchihuitán (La Jornada, 15 de mayo de 2014)


Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony once again postpone possible return following new aggression

March 16, 2014

Mujer frente al campamento militar de Majomut, peregrinación del 8 de marzo de 2014 (@SIPAZ)

Woman before the Majomut military base during the pilgrimage of 8 March 2014 (@SIPAZ)

On 8 March, during the pilgrimage-march organized for International Women’s Day, women from the Las Abejas Civil Society shared a communique in which they once again stressed that in the case of the Puebla ejido, “it would seem that the bad government of Chiapas headed by Manuel Velasco has resolved the conflict with the ‘return’ of the Catholic territory on 26 February; but if we think about it a bit, we see this only as a partial solution.  Yesterday in the Puebla Colony there was burned a house for catechism belonging to our Catholic brothers; we understand that this act is a message of hate and violence of the people allied with the commissioner and Evangelical pastor Agustín Cruz Gómez. We see that the return of our Catholic brothers and sisters is becoming more complicated.  If the government had applied justice as it should, there would be peace and tranquility in the Puebla Colony.”

This same day the parish of San Pedro Chenalhó delved into this concern, affirming that on 7 March, “the burning of the door of the entrance to the catechismal house is the consequence of the impunity enjoyed by the aggressors against our Catholic brothers and sisters from the Puebla Colony who presently live displaced in the sacred land of Acteal.  We always have insisted on the application of justice, because peace can only exist when there is also justice.  However, the state government of Chiapas and the secretary for religious affairs and commissioner Agustín Cruz Gómez have on several occasions requested that we forget about the aggressions to which we were subjected; that is to say, that we be accomplices to violence.”

The bishop for the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese, Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, confirmed in a press conference that the 17 Catholic families displaced from the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó municipality, have suspended the plans to return on 14 March.  The 98 Tsotsil persons left the Puebla ejido in August after a series of attacks from the Evangelical majority over the dispute of land for a Catholic chapel.

For more information (in Spanish):

Queman puerta del salón de catequesis,denuncian familias desplazadas de Ejido Puebla (Denuncia de la parroquia de San Pedro Chenalhó, 8 de marzo de 2014)

Comunicado de las mujeres Abejas en el Día Internacional de la Mujer (8 de marzo de 2014)

Suspenden familias tzotziles su retorno al ejido de Puebla: Arizmendi (10 de marzo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Authorities hand over land in dispute to Catholics in Puebla Colony.  “This is not the priority solution for the displaced,” note Las Abejas (2 March 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó return to Acteal (13 February 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla ejido do not find conditions for return (3 February 2014)

Chiapas: those displaced from the Puebla ejido return to their community to harvest coffee (22 January 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony announce return for coffee harvest (15 January 2014)

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)


Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla ejido do not find conditions for return

February 3, 2014

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Photo @revoluciontrespuntocero.com

On 22 January passed 5 days since the (temporary) return of the displaced indigenous peoples to the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó municipality, but they have confirmed that security conditions for a definitive return are lacking.  The displaced families abandoned the community six months ago due to aggressions and false accusations from the PRI authorities of the ejido.  On 17 January, 14 of the 17 families who have taken refuge in Acteal traveled in caravan to harvest their cafe, as supervised by state and federal officials and accompanied by brigadistas who arrived to meet with the dominant group of the ejido, led by the Evangelical priest and commissioner Agustín Cruz Gómez.

Escorted by state police, Secretary of Governance Enrique Ramírez Aguilar and subsecretaries Mariano Díaz Ochoa (Regional Operations), Belisario Rodríguez (Indigenous Peoples and Culture) and Víctor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa (Religious Affairs), as well as Francisco Yáñez, a federal official, and a representative from Chenalhó, José Arias Vázquez.  These all met on friendly terms with commissioner Cruz Gómez and other ejidal authorities responsible for the violence, displacements, and looting.  They arrived with 16 agents from the Public Ministry (MP).

A brigadista reported that “effectively, there are damages to the land and houses.  In five of the latter, there have been cuts to water supply, and on the land robbery of firewood and coffee.  The indigenous people have found imprints of horse’s hooves and we have heard that some families have lost all their crops, including pumpkins, squash, and other vegetables.”

For their part, several indigenous organizations (Movement of El Bosque for the Defense of the People, Civil Resistance Force and Light of the People, Particular Executive Agrarian Committee of Chiapas, ex-prisoners from the Voz del Amate, Civil Resistance Santo Tomás, displaced persons from Banavil and Aurora Ermita, the Ricardo Flores Magón Front, and LakLumal Ixim) expressed their “support in solidarity with our displaced siblings.”

Para más información:

Desplazados chiapanecos, todavía sin garantías para un regreso definitivo(La Jornada, 22 de enero de 2014)

Apoyo a las familias desplazadas del ejido Puebla, Chenalhó, Chiapas(Chiapas Denuncia, 20 de enero de 2014)

Con 600 pesos, síndico de Chenalhó busca solucionar conflicto (Revolución Tres Punto Cero, 21 de enero de 2014)

http://caravanapuebla.wordpress.com/

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: those displaced from the Puebla ejido return to their community to harvest coffee (22 January 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony announce return for coffee harvest (15 January 2014)

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)


Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony announce return for coffee harvest

January 15, 2014

Conferencia de prensa 9 de enero 2014 @ SIPAZ

Press conference on 9 January 2014 @ SIPAZ

Those who have been displaced from the Puebla Colony ejido, Chenalhó municipality, announced that on 17 January they will leave the Acteal camp where they are presently located to return to their community to begin harvesting coffee, given that “the time to cut the coffee is now passing and we have the economic need to have this resource which together with beans and maize is the basis of the maintenance of our families.”  The labor will last 10 days, until 27 January, when they will re-evaluate their presence in the community or decide to return to Acteal.

In a communique, they clarified that “this will not involve a complete and definitive return to our community, given that the municipal, state, and federal governments have not provided the conditions that we requested for our return with security and tranquility to our homes.”  Included within these conditions for return, the displaced request the resolution of the question of the possession of the land on which the chapel is being built, which was the object of initial conflict; that the open penal investigations continue; and that compensation be offered for the damages “that we have suffered, both in material (the destruction and robbery of our property) and moral terms (the slander that we had poisoned the water of the Puebla Colony).”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de las y los desplazadas/os del ejido Colonia Puebla: “Vamos a ir unos días a nuestra comunidad, la Colonia Puebla con el fin de cosechar nuestro café” (9 de enero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)

Chiapas: Denunciation from Las Abejas of Acteal on 22 May 2013 (7 June 2013)


Chiapas: Civil organizations pronounce themselves on the conflict in the Puebla ejido 5 months after its beginning

November 12, 2013

Desplazadas de ejido Puebla. Foto @Sipaz

Five months following the beginning of the violent acts which resulted in the forced displacement of 98 persons from the Puebla ejido, 11 Mexican civil-society organizations have published a pronunciation which indicates the tepid intervention from the state government regarding the investigation and judicial intervention in the case, in light of the 3 penal denunciations that have to date been submitted by those affected the violent acts.  These persons still remain wardens of the state justice system.

“Impunity leads to the chronic repetition of human-rights violations and the total lack of defense of the victims and their relatives.  All of this must be resisted by all the media which can do so,” notes the declaration.

In this sense, the organizations signing this declaration have formulated a series of demands which include the immediate cessation of violence and protection for residents suffering from harassment in the Puebla ejido, in addition to the creation of conditions favorable to the guaranteed return of displaced families, the investigation of the acts, the delineation of responsibilities regarding the aggressions and human-rights violations committed, and penal action against those who are responsible.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento: Impunidad ante desplazamiento forzado de 98 personas del ejido Puebla (CDH Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, 17 de octubre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)


Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony

September 16, 2013

Foto @ Pozol.org

On 26 August, 98 persons from 17 Catholic and Baptist families from the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó municipality, moved themselves to Acteal due to the insecure situation which they face.  Members of the Las Abejas Civil Society made a call for economic solidarity, to help maintain the displaced families.  In a 31 August communique, Las Abejas express that “this letter is to request humanitarian support for our displaced brothers and sisters.  But what we will request of you, if your heart and thought desires to help us, is that you not send things that the displaced do not know how to use or eat.  We say this due to our experiences in the Las Abejas camps in the year 1997.”  In this document Las Abejas enumerate the necessities and locations and bank accounts in which donations are being accepted.

On 1 September, the displaced families from Puebla Colony expressed to a national and international solidarity caravan the difficult situation they face.  Tsotsil indigenous persons indicated that “upon seeing all that is happening in our ejido, we thought we would leave because we cannot take it anymore, though we would like simply to hide in one house or another, but they always follow us,” adding that “they always come to hear where we are in the house, so youth and all kinds of people arrive to throw stones at our houses.  Thus we sense the frustration that we can no longer resist, and for that reason we decided all to depart on 20 August at 10am.”

The displaced families, comprised in majority of minors, stressed that on 23 August they had an inter-institutional meeting in San Cristóbal de las Casas in the presence of authorities from the Presbyterian religious, state representatives, and members of the Catholic Church; at the meeting was discussed the events of the past months.  Evaluating the result of this meeting, they said: “The authorities who were present at this meeting gave us a document for all to sign.  We demand justice and they ignored us.  We do not want to made public the goings-on of the community.  Thus we did not sign the understanding.”

Para más información:

Solidaridad con l@s herman@s católic@s de Col. Puebla, por desplazamiento forzado (Blog Las Abejas de Acteal, 31 de agosto de 2013)

Testimonios de hombres y mujeres desplazados del Ejido Puebla, Chenalhó (Radio Zapatista, 4 de septiembre de 2013)

“Que se haga la justicia” exigen familias desplazadas del Ejido Puebla de Chenalhò Chiapas (Pozol Colectivo, 6 de septiembre de 2013)

Condenamos el desplazamiento por violencia en Colonia Puebla, Chenalhó: Demandamos solidaridad, justicia y condiciones seguras para el retorno de las familias (CDMCh, 6 de septiembre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English): 

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)

Chiapas: Denunciation from Las Abejas of Acteal on 22 May 2013 (7 June 2013)

 


Chiapas: Press-conference by Las Abejas, 4 years after the beginning of the release of those incarcerated for the Acteal massacre

August 21, 2013

(@CDHFBC)

On 12 August, 4 years after the beginning of the release of indigenous people who had been charged and convicted of having participated in the Acteal massacre due to a decision by the Supreme Court for Justice in the Nation (SCJN), members of the Las Abejas Civil Society, to which the 45 victims of 1997 pertained, held a press-conference.  They affirmed that “for us it is the ‘Supreme Court of the rich and the criminals,’ which has since 12 August 2009 released 69 paramilitary members (including several who have confessed to their crimes), with only 6 remaining imprisoned.”  They denounced that the released persons have returned to their communitie, that “the paramilitaries of Chenalhó have now been reactivated, firing their guns and causing displacement, just as in 1997.”  They indicate that “one of the recent violent activities taken by the paramilitaries is taking place now in the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó municipality, with the pretext of a dispute over land belonging to the Catholic Church.”  They added: “in light of the lack of justice and truthful investigation by the Mexican government in the Acteal case, the released paramilitaries and above all those who never went to jail in the first place today attack and harass with impunity, because they have seen that to massacre women, men, and children, they will receive prizes from the Mexican government rather than be punished.”  Las Abejas also warned the intellectual authors of the massacre that “although justice protects you and you believe that you cannot be judged, you will not be free, wherever you go.  Our memory and that of the people of Mexico and the world will judge you forever.  You will in your conscience carry the blood of Acteal.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncian la reactivación de paramilitares en Chenalhó (La Jornada, 13 de agosto de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society warns of violence in Chenalhó “reminiscent of the year 1997″ (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas denounce lack of justice in the Acteal case (23 April 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas lament release of yet another of those charged for Acteal massacre (27 March 2013)


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