On 26 February, campesinos and indigenous persons pertaining to 78 ejidos from 11 municipalities of the Sierra and Coast of Chiapas founded a “Civil Guard for Self-Defense” toward the end of putting a halt to the looting undertaken by mining firms in the state. During a meeting celebrated in the El Carrizal community (Motozintla municipality), at which participated more than 2000 campesinos, it was agreed that the Civil Guards will be comprised by groups of 20 persons who will patrol zones to prevent the operation of mining firms and to arrest any transport vehicle in said zone. They indicated that they saw themselves as obligated to opt for this route in light of the indifference of the local and federal authorities and their outright collaboration with the companies that loot and pollute the state.
The 78 communities that participated are located in the Bella Vista, Bejucal de Ocampo, La Grandeza, Mazapa de Madero, Escuintla, Acacoyagua, Siltepec, Frontera Comalapa, El Porvenir, and Chicomuselo municipalities.
The next day, the Chiapas state-government expressed its rejection of the operation of armed self-defense groups in the state, clarifying that the development has to do with civil ecologists who have been protesting mineral exploitation for more than five years in municipalities such as Chicomuselo: “They have nothing to do with the civil armed groups that have arisen in other states, because in Chiapas security and social peace are guaranteed by the institutions of local public security and the federal security forces present in the state.”
For more information (in Spanish):
Campesinos crean en Chiapas ‘guardias civiles’ para frenar a mineras (Proceso, 26 de febrero de 2013)
Amagan con más autodefensas, ahora en Chiapas (El Universal, 26 de febrero de 2013)
Chiapas descarta presencia de autodefensa armada (El Universal, 27 de febrero de 2013)
Aparecen grupos de autodefensa en Chiapas (Animal Político, 27 de febrero de 2013)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Chiapas: Death-threats directed against the Chicomuselo parish (13 October 2010)
Chiapas: the Peace Network presents report on Chiapas’ border zone(13 October 2010)
Chiapas: Canadian delegation investigates mining abuses (2 April 2010)
Chiapas: Anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca killed (1 December 2009)