Chiapas: Outbreak of COVID-19 in San Cristobal Las Casas Prison

May 23, 2020

solidariosPhoto: chiapasparalelo

The Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 in San Cristobal de Las Casas prison. Those affected so far are eight indigenous Tzotzil prisoners, all members of the organization Solidarios la Voz de El Amate (The Solidarity Voice of Amate) but more people could be infected. They have been quarantined since midnight on May 20th. During the previous weeks they had asked for sanitary control measures several times to avoid this situation.

“Our family members no longer enter the prison. We were told that this is a measure to prevent coronavirus disease from spreading to us. But the risk of contagion comes from the jailers themselves”, a group of prisoners reported by telephone. This is because, they affirmed, the jailers, or personnel on duty, do not use any protective measures when entering the area of ​​cells and patios where the inmates are located, nor gloves nor face masks. After this complaint, the Ministry of Public Security and Citizen Protection, which is in charge of prisons, said that the complaint of the inmates was false, and argued that there was a protocol to avoid contagion.

Meanwhile, relatives of the police officer Artemio Jimenez Estrada, who worked in San Cristobal de Las Casas prison, reported that he allegedly died of COVID-19: “His last wish was to report the lack of medical attention he received from the command at CERESO number 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, they never gave him permission to receive medical attention until the last day when he was already serious and could not fight the disease”, his family said on their Facebook accounts.

no estamos todos

On another note, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) demanded the implementation of measures to guarantee the life, health, integrity and freedom of prisoners on hunger strike in Chiapas. Since May 21st, members of the organization La Voz de Indigenas en Resistencia (The Voice of Indigenous in Resistance) and La Voz Verdadera del Amate (The True Voice of Amate) started a hunger strike from CERSS No. 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas and CERSS No. 10 in Comitan de Dominguez.

Therefore, the relatives of prisoners on hunger strike for their freedom filed an injunction on May 20th, 2020, before a Judge in Tuxtla Gutierrez. They claim that the state authorities fails the security and protection of the health of those who are in prison, suffering uncertainty regarding the increased risk of contagion.

The Colectivo Cereza Chiapas (Chiapas Cherry Collective), which accompanies the women prisoners in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, denounced that the women were gassed for protesting. For four days they had no phone to communicate with their defense or their relatives. They have been without a doctor since the beginning of March and lack basic hygiene and cleaning products. They are also afraid of the risks of contagion from COVID-19.

For more information in Spanish:

Brote de COVID-19 en penal de Chiapas, presos indígenas contagiados, Chiapasparalelo, 20 de mayo de 2020

Brote de Covid-19 en penal de San Cristóbal, Chiapas: 8 infectados, La Jornada, 20 de mayo de 2020

Denuncian brote de covid-19 en penal de San Cristóbal, Proceso, 21 de mayo de 2020

Firma por: Garantías de vida, salud, integridad y libertad a presos en huelga de hambre en Chiapas, Frayba, 21 de mayo de 2020

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Hunger Strike over Health Fears Due to COVID-19 (May 21, 2020)

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Three-day Fast to Demand Freedom (March 23, 2020)

Chiapas: Exigen libertad para las 9 presos solidarios de la Voz del Amate, (6 /11/2019)

Chiapas:Presos del Cerss 5 son amenazados de ser reubicados si no detienen su protesta (6 de septiembre de 2019)

National: CSOs Request Dialogue Spaces “Given the Disturbing Vulnerability of [Indigenous] Peoples and Communities” in Coronavirus Pandemic

May 18, 2020


In a statement published on May 14th, a dozen Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including La Montaña Tlachinollan Human Rights Center (Guerrero), EDUCA (Oaxaca) and the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Chiapas), expressed their “deep concern about the conditions that the pandemic may generate in the communities during the following weeks and months, and we ask that a space for dialogue be opened to build proposals that address their conditions and needs.”

They recalled that these groups “have been historically forgotten by public health institutions, causing the systematic violation of their right to health,” a vulnerability that has been reinforced by the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19)

“In addition to the lack of infrastructure, medical personnel and continuous supply of medicines, institutional discrimination and the lack of a culturally adequate and affordable preventive approach to the communities are added; as well as, in this context, the lack of adequate monitoring and follow-up of migrants who return to their communities, taking care of their dignity”, they denounced.

They also worried about “the economic vulnerability of most of the people in the communities. Lack of access to decent sources of employment in communities makes them dependent on trade and informal employment, as well as remittances from migrants in the United States. In the current context of global economic crisis, both local sources of income and remittances are at risk of declining sharply, without a program to guarantee a basic income.” They are alarmed that the food security of several of these communities is at risk.

On the other hand, CSOs expressed their concern at the fact that “communities face a reduced capacity to defend their territories and the environment, since their spaces for community decision-making are restricted and access to institutions for the provision of justice is limited”, which is why they support “the demand for a moratorium on all large-scale infrastructure projects that are affecting or may affect indigenous territories without their consent, with potential adverse impacts on human rights.”

Finally, they warned about the context of increased violence against women aggravated by the context of a health emergency.

Against this background, the authorities urged “to adopt better actions aimed at this population in matters of health, economy, food, water, sanitation, attention to conflict and security, without prejudice to their self-determination and autonomy.” They also called them “To open a space for dialogue and collaboration with civil society that allows us to face this crisis from multiple places; recognizing the efforts that communities are already making to face the crisis due to the pandemic from their own ways of life and organization.”

For more information in Spanish:

Ante la preocupante vulnerabilidad de pueblos y comunidades frente al COVID-19, organizaciones de la sociedad civil piden espacio de diálogo (OSC, 14 de mayo de 2020)

Comunidades indígenas, en especial vulnerabilidad por Coronavirus advierte ONG (Milenio, 14 de mayo de 2020)

Preocupa a ONG’s vulnerabilidad de pueblos y comunidades frente al Covid 19(El Sie7e de Chiapas, 15 de mayo de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Cuts for Indigenous Women in Violent Situations(May 15, 2020)

Oaxaca: People of Oaxaca Granted Injunction against Sanctions for Use of Face Masks (May 11, 2020)

National: CNDH Calls for Protection of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Populations against COVID-19 (April 14, 2020)

National: Organizations Denounce Health Neglect in Open Letter to AMLO (April 16, 2020)

Chiapas: Injunction Granted to Protect Life, Integrity and Security of Displaced Tsotsil Communities in Aldama

May 4, 2020

Aldamaamparo© Frayba

On April 28th, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) published a bulletin in which the injunction granted to communities of the Maya Tsotsil people in forced displacement from Aldama is disclosed, this as a result of the petition filed by representatives of communities in said municipality on March 27th.

The third district court, based in Tuxtla Gutierrez, granted an injunction to protect the life, integrity and security of the Aldama communities. This request was made for the “definitive suspension of violence by armed paramilitary civilian groups who act with the acquiescence and tolerance of State officials.” In this sense, the omission of the responsible authorities was denounced in view of compliance with this resolution.

In addition to the aggravation of violence in this area, the communities of Original Peoples are highly vulnerable to the health emergency caused by COVID-19 and the recently announced Phase Three. On the one hand, the population faces attacks with firearms, and on the other, contracting the virus and not having, in any case, guarantees of adequate medical attention. From this perspective, the United Nations Essential Guidelines establish the need to protect the most vulnerable populations, such as communities in forced displacement: “States must apply additional measures in order to address the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 may have on minorities, because of the remote areas where they live, where there is limited access to essential goods and services.”

For this reason, Frayba demanded that the President of the Republic, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Governor of the state of Chiapas, Rutilio Cruz Escandon Cadenas, comply with the judicial mandate and also:

  • Guarantee security to “protect the life of the population of the Maya Tsotsil people in the municipality of Aldama, from armed aggressions that intensified since March 24th, 2020.”
  • The investigation of the armed aggressions registered since March 2018 that caused the forced displacement of these communities.
  • Provide humanitarian care, housing, health, adequate and dignified food for the victims of these forced displacements and in greater vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information in Spanish:

Otorgan amparo a comunidades del Pueblo Maya Tsotsil en Desplazamiento Forzado(Frayba, 28 abril 2020)

Otorgan amparo a indígenas de Chiapas en desplazamiento forzado (Contralínea, 28 abril 2020)

Indígenas de los Altos de Chiapas, entre el acoso del gobierno y el Covid-19 (La Jornada, 28 abril 2020)

Otorgan amparo para proteger a comunidades de Aldama (Prensa Libre, 29 abril 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: “ Not Only COVID Threatens Life” – Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society (April 25, 2020)

Chiapas: Attacks against Tsotsil Communities in Aldama Continue (April 16, 2020)

Chiapas: Authorities in Santa Martha and Aldama Denounce New Attacks (March 5, 2020)

National: CNDH Requests Cautionary Measures for Cristobal Santiz Jimenez (March 30, 2020)

Chiapas: Por tercera vez en plantón, desplazados de Ejido Puebla, Chenalhó

Chiapas: Death of Displaced Baby Girl from Rio Jordan, Chenalho (February 28, 2020)


Chiapas: Frayba Denounces Threats and Harassment of Simojovel Parish Priest Marcelo Perez Perez

April 20, 2020


In a bulletin published on April 18th, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) expressed concern about the most recent death threats and acts of surveillance against Father Marcelo Perez Perez, pastor of Simojovel de Allende, “harassment that also endangers the safety of his pastoral team and the general population.”

It compiled a series of events that occurred between March 29th and April 6th and recalled that Father Marcelo Perez, in addition to being coordinator of the Social Pastoral of the Province of Chiapas, which integrates the Dioceses of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Tapachula and Tuxtla Gutierrez, “has precautionary measures (MC-506/14) granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and with measures carried out by the Protection Mechanism for Defenders and Journalists.”

Frayba also pointed out that the priest “continues his religious activities and the defense of human rights, especially of Original Peoples, despite the deficient political will for protection by the Mexican State and in a context where organized crime operates.”

Finally, it emphasized that it is “the obligation of the Mexican State to implement the necessary measures so that those who defend human rights carry out their work without any type of violence, threat, retaliation, surveillance and harassment.”

For more information in Spanish:

Amenazas a la vida del defensor comunitario Padre Marcelo Pérez Pérez (Frayba, 18 de abril)

Frayba denuncia amenazas contra párroco de Simojovel, Chiapas (La Jornada, 18 de abril de 2019)

Amenazas de muerte y vigilancia en contra del Párroco de Simojovel (El Heraldo de Chiapas, 18 de abril de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas : Alerta máxima del Pueblo Creyente en Simojovel ante nuevas amenazas (17 de mayo de 2018)

Chiapas: Celebration of Simojovel Believing People (April 12, 2017)

Chiapas: Threats to Simojovel Parishioners (November 17, 2016)

Chiapas: Realizaron marcha en Simojovel en respuesta a los ataques violentos de la semana pasada (12 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas: Community of Faith in Simojovel reject dialogue with Gomez brothers (March 23, 2016)

Chiapas/National: “Denying the Existence of Torture in Mexico Encourages Impunity”, CSO

April 20, 2020


In a bulletin published on April 16th, the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCTI), the World Organization Against Torture (WOAT) and the Group of Litigants in Latin America said that the statements of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) last April 5th, affirming that in Mexico “we have eradicated torture” contradict “what was sustained by various instances of the United Nations Organization (UN) on their different visits to this country who affirm that torture in Mexico is widespread and systematic”, a perception they share.

As an example of this, between January 2019 and March 2020, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) documented 18 cases of torture perpetrated in the current penal system in Chiapas.

“The practice of torture is rooted and propagated in Mexico. There is mistrust within the new penal system, specifically in the officials in charge of law enforcement for continuing to validate the acts of torture carried out by the police forces, which perpetuate this method as part of their practice of investigating crimes. This is due to the lack of education, training and awareness regarding the new judicial system, where we have verified the lack of technique to investigate, preserve evidence, guard evidence and take care of the chain of custody in the facts”, they maintained.

They also noted that “despite having a General Law to Prevent, Investigate and Punish Torture in Mexico, the Special Prosecutors for the Investigation of the Crime of Torture are unaware of it, which allows this violation of human rights to continue to be committed on a daily basis.”

They ended by urging “the President of the Republic not to use the public health crisis derived from the pandemic by COVID 19, to issue information that goes against the protection, respect and guarantee of human rights, since such circumstances contribute to the climate impunity and favors torture.”

For more information in Spanish:

Negar la existencia de la Tortura en México alienta la impunidad (OSC, 16 de abril de 2020)

AMLO da informe trimestral y plan económico para México por coronavirus (Milenio el 5 de abril de 2020)

Pestes, créditos y abrazos. Informe trimestral de AMLO en 23 frases clave (El Universal el 5 de abril de 2020)

Esto fue lo anunciado por AMLO para México en su informe trimestral (El Imparcial el 5 de abril de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Lopez Obrador Makes Fifth Trimster Report; Assures “We Will Prevail” (April 10, 2020)

National/International: “When Words Are Not Enough” – Amnesty International Report almost One Year after AMLO Takes Office (December 4, 2019)

International/National: Un Human Rights Committee Issues 48 Human Rights Recommendations for Mexico (November 12, 2019)

National/International: CAT Issues Recommendations on Torture in Mexico (May 22, 2019)

Chiapas: Woman Dies Violently Every Two Days in the State

April 16, 2020


In a bulletin published on April 13th, the Fray Bartolom de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) warned of the rise in gender violence in Chiapas since the beginning of the year, particularly against indigenous women.

It stated that according to data from the Feminist Observatory against Violence against Women in Chiapas, during the first quarter of the year at least 18 femicides were perpetrated, affirming that these data represent “a minimal sample of the great and serious problems that the State reflects.”

It also denounced that a “constant” strategy of the state government “has been to deny the dimension of the emergency for femicide in the state and not to implement the investigation protocols according to international standards, resulting in a decrease in the media of the statistics of femicide.”

It also condemned the increase in the disappearances and femicides of girls and adolescent women in the state when “at least 51 disappeared have not been found, including a four-year-old girl, from a record of 69 in the first quarter of the year. 49% are adolescents between 14 and 18 years old.”

For this reason, Frayba urged the Mexican State “to comply with the Final Observations on the Ninth Periodic Report of Mexico, issued on July 25th, 2018, by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women”; in particular: “Take urgent measures to prevent violent deaths, murders and enforced disappearances of women, in particular by combating the root causes of these acts.”

At the end of March, the Feminist Observatory against Violence against Women had denounced for its part that “within the first three months, 47 violent deaths of women were registered, which means that every two days there is an occurrence within the entity”.

For more information in Spanish:

A la alza violencia hacia las mujeres en pueblos originarios (El Heraldo de Chiapas, 15 de abril de 2020)

Frayba denuncia incremento de violencia contra mujeres en Chiapas (Contralínea, 13 de abril de 2020)

Persiste violencia hacia las mujeres en Chiapas (Frayba, 13 de abril de 2020)

Prevalece la estadística en 2020; cada dos días, una mujer muere de forma violenta en Chiapas (Chiapas, 8 de abril de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Two Women Murdered in Tonala (January 14, 2020)

Chiapas/International: Second Encounter of Women Who Struggle Held by EZLN (January 13, 2020)

Chiapas/National: March and Press Conference for International Day to Eradicate Violence against Women (December 4, 2019)

Chiapas: Groups Denounce Increase in Femicides and Transfemicides in the State (August 27, 2019)

Chiapas: March in San Cristobal de Las Casas Following Another Femicide (August 25, 2019)

Chiapas: Health Workers Denounce Shortages in Hospitals

April 10, 2020


In a letter dated April 3rd, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, A.C. (Frayba) documented that representatives of Section 50 of the National Union of Workers of the Ministry of Health of the State of Chiapas, have clearly and forcefully warned Rutilio Escandn Cadenas, Governor of Chiapas, and Dr. Jose Manuel Cruz Castellanos, Secretary of Health for the state, that for weeks the situation in hospitals continues to be precarious, with no minimum conditions to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such serious health impacts for the population of Chiapas.

The workers of the health sector of the State of Chiapas protest about the lack of medicines for the population and personal protection equipment for their personnel in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. They fear that the hospital centers of the state of Chiapas will be a focus of infection affecting healthy patients, as well as the staff themselves.

Likewise, they denounce that the health personnel who receive patients with symptoms of said disease do not have or have insufficient minimum protection supplies recommended by the World Health Organization. The supplies that to date have not been received are: N95 or N100 masks; safety glasses, medical goggles or face shields; disposable waterproof insulation gowns; among other essential materials for the protection of the integrity of Health personnel.

At the same time, the different medical units have few or no simple mouthguards, gloves, surgical gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, micro porous tape, gel alcohol. Similarly, few or none of the following supplies have been provided for health and hygiene: chlorine, soap and disposable towels.

In the San Juan Chamula hospital, doctors improvise suits with plastic bags to supposedly “avoid contagions” of coronavirus.

On another note, a UNAM investigation indicates that in Chiapas alone, some 773,514 houses do not have piped water inside the house: “One of the main recommendations issued by the Ministry of Health, since the presence of the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in Mexico has been washing hands constantly, with soap and water; however, in different states of the Republic, millions of people will not be able to comply with said prevention measure.”

For more information in Spanish:

En Chiapas, carencia de agua pone a más de medio millón de viviendas en riesgo de COVID-19, Chiapasparalelo, 8 de abril 2020

Chiapas: usan bolsas de plástico para “evitar” contagios de Covid-19, Arestegui noticas 3 de abril 2020

Piden centros de derechos humanos se atienda el desabasto en hospitales, nvi noticias, 4 de abril ce 2020

Crisis en el sector salud aumenta el riesgo para la vida de población en Chiapas ante el Covid 19, Frayba 3 de abril 2020

Personal médico de Arriaga así enfrenta la epidemia del Covid-19, Chiapasparalelo 5 de abril de 2020

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Lopez Obrador Makes Fifth Trimster Report; Assures “We Will Prevail” (April 10, 2020)

National: National Network of Farm Laborers (REJJA) Calls for More Information and Support about Risks of Coronavirus for Workers (March 26, 2020)