Chiapas: new threats against the priest and members of the Believing People in Simojovel

July 2, 2015

Padre Marcelo Pérez Pérez (@Red TdT)

Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez (@Red TdT)

In a communique published on 22 June, members of the parish of San Antonio de Padúa, Simojovel municipality, denounced that, since 16 June, death-threats have been on the rise against Father Marcelo Pérez, catechists, and members of the Parish Council and Believing People, thus putting at risk their lives and physical and psychological integrity. This increase has presented itself following the arrest of Juan Gómez Domínguez, a former PRI mayor, and two of his accomplices, given that “the PRI leaders from different communities hold the Believing People and Pérez Pérez responsible for these arrests, such that now we have entered a high-risk situation.”

Within these new aggressions, the Simojovel Catholics detail that on 16 June, PRI militants “met at the offices of the National Campesino Confederation, several of them carrying machetes, sticks, and gasoline amphoras. Even at night, they went to buy more gasoline, and during the day it was heard that they would attack the church and remove the priest forcibly to kill him.” Beyond this, on 20 June, “a parish council that has been awarded precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) received strong threats against its person and family, leading them to decide to leave and seek out refuge in another municipality for some days.” Two days later, 10 people “strongly armed harassed the CIRSA offices, being a cooperative created by the Catholic Church, whose board members work in the Church, yet no valuable objects were stolen.” That same day in Bochil, close to Simojovel, four people in a parked car were overheard saying, “We are going to decapitate Father Marcelo from Simojovel. We are just finding the right time to do so, given all the fucked-up things he does.”

It should be recalled that for the past year, the Catholics from Simojovel have through pilgrimages demanded the closure of cantinas and sex-houses, and that the sale of drugs and arms in the zone be curtailed. The result is the death-threats they now confront.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento completo: Situación de riesgo contra defensores comunitarios del Pueblo Creyente en Simojovel (Pueblo Creyente de Simojovel,

Por denunciar la corrupción y la venta de drogas, grupos priistas amenazan de muerte al sacerdote y habitantes de Simojovel, Chiapas(Desinformémonos, 25 de junio de 2015)

Prevalece en Simojovel “situación de alto riesgo” por detención de ex alcalde(La Jornada, 25 de junio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: OMCT and FIDH urge protection of Simojovel priest (23 April 2015)

Chiapas: New threats against members of the Believing People in Simojovel after their fifth pilgrimage demanding security and peace (12 November 2014)

Chiapas: Urgent Action concerning threats to Marcelo Pérez, priest of Simojovel (28 June 2014)

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Chiapas: Believing People of Chenalhó pronounces itself in favor of the closure of cantinas in the municipality

June 30, 2015

Iglesia de Chenalhó (@Koman Ilel)

Chenalhó church (@Koman Ilel)

In a communique published on 23 June, Catholics from the Chenalhó parish who make up part of the Believing People pronounced themselves in favor of the closure of cantinas and alcohol dispensaries in their municipality. They stressed that “the consequences of the consumption of alcohol are disastrous, such as suicides, deaths, motor-vehicle accidents, and divorce.” There exist some 21 cantinas, three restaurants, and two grocery stores in the municipal seat.

The Catholics demanded that the agreement which previously had been organized by the 94 communities of the municipality be observed, as the owners of cantinas and alcohol dispensaries have not respected this. It must be recalled that on 13 June, an organized women’s group requested the authorities to produce a document that would demand the departure of those selling alcohol. In this way, “on 20 June, the judges went to see whether the alcohol-vendors respected the document, but they did not. Instead, they merely returned to selling.”

They claim as well that “if something bad happens, whether to the organized women, or to our priest or the believers of this parish, the immediately responsible parties will be the authorities of the Chenalhó municipality, the state government, and the federal government, and we will not remain silent, but rather we will denounce the situation before national and international civil society, and before Mexican and global human-rights defenders.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado completo: Pueblo Creyente denuncia complicidad de autoridades en venta desmedida de alcohol en Chenalhó (Pueblo Creyente de Chenalhó, 23 de junio de 2015)

Atender problemas de venta de alcohol (Cuarto Poder, 24 de junio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Believing People of El Bosque march for a halt to violence in their region (30 June 2015)

Chiapas: Pilgrimage in Simojovel to demand justice and truth amidst deaths of infants (9 June 2015)

Chiapas: Rise in threats against the priest and members of the Believing People in Simojovel (24 April 2015)


Chiapas : “return without justice” of those displaced from the Puebla ejido

April 26, 2014

Conferencia de prensa de los desplazados de Colonia Puebla. Foto (@Sipaz)

Press-conference of those displaced from the Puebla ejido. Photo (@Sipaz)

At 10am on Friday 11 April, there was held a press-conference at the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights by representatives of the 17 families of the Puebla ejido who find themselves displaced for nearly a year in Acteal due to aggressions they suffered in their community of origin.

Following a failed attempt to return on 20 August 2013 and a temporary return in January to harvest coffee crops, the displaced decided to return to their community.  In a communique, they noted that the problems have not been resolved, but that “life in a camp of displaced persons is very difficult” and that they must “work [their] milpas and coffee-crops so as to sustain our families.”

They termed their return a “return without justice,” denouncing that little to no progress has been made in these terms: “impunity continues.  The aggressors have not received any punishment.”  The representatives indicated the existence of a two-tiered justice system, given that there are problems which have yet to be resolved for years “in the cases in which there has been evident complicity on the part of the communal authorities.”  In contrast, said authorities proceeded quickly to detain three colleagues of the displaced when they were accused of having poisoned the community’s water supply and to arrest two men for the burning of the home Macario Arias Gomez a month ago–these being people who had nothing to do with the crime, according to the displaced.

The displaced Catholics clarified that “we hold the authorities responsible for applying the law as they should” and noted that they had “never attacked anyone,” believing instead that “all members of other religions are our brothers and sisters, and we await the possibility of advancing with them toward the construction of a peaceful coexistence in our community.”  Lastly, they once again stressed that “the great missing factor here is the situation of justice.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de los desplazados del ejido Puebla sobre su retorno (11 de abril de 2014)

Convocatoria a acompañar el retorno de desplazados del ejido Puebla, Chenalhó, Chiapas (11 de abril de 2014)

Retornan a su tierra desplazados del Ejido Puebla (La Jornada, 11 de abril de 2014)

Transmisión Conferencia de Prensa Desplazados del Ejido Puebla (Koman Ilel, 11 de abril de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Arrest of those presumed responsible for the burning of a house in the Puebla Colony an “insult to the displaced” (Las Abejas Civil Society) (30 March 2014)

Chiapas: House of displaced family is burned down in Puebla Colony, Chenalhó. Two are arrested (16 March 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony once again postpone possible return following new aggression (18 March 2014)

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: House of displaced family is burned down in Puebla Colony, Chenalhó. Two are arrested

March 16, 2014

Acteal (@Espoir Chiapas)

Acteal (@Espoir Chiapas)

On 12 March, the house of the family of Normelina Hernández López and Macario Arias Gómez was burned to the ground in the Puebla Colony.  The family is one of 17 others that was forcibly displaced from the community in August 2013 and now has taken refuge in the Acteal community.  The previous week there had already been burned the door of a catechismal house.  The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights indicated that “these acts took place despite the presence of approximately 30 officers from the State Preventive Police who seemed not to notice.”  For this reason, the Center expresses its “concern over the persistence of the violence climate and for the risky situation in which the forcibly displaced families find themselves.  In light of the gravity of the latest events, return looks more difficult.  For the situation we find the governmental authorities responsible by omission, for, instead of administering justice, they maintain and permit an impunity that generates tension and violence.”

Since April 2013, Catholics and Evangelicals from the Puebla Colony have been in conflict regarding land on which had been located a Catholic chapel.  On 23 February, the state government awarded the land in dispute to the San Cristóbal de las Casas diocese and for this reason, the displaced announced that they would return to their community on 14 March, a return that was cancelled after the burning of a door of the catechismal house.

Sources within the Chiapas state government reported that two people have been arrested from the Puebla ejido for the burning of the house of the family of Macario Arias and placed under the control of the State Preventive Police (PEP).

For more information (in Spanish):

Queman casa de familia desplazada del ejido Puebla (Parroquia de Chenalhó y desplazados de Colonia Puebla, 12 de marzo de 2014)

 Boletín: Persiste la violencia contra las personas desplazadas forzadamente del ejido Puebla (CDHFBC, 13 de marzo de 2014)

Pobladores del ejido Puebla, en Chenalhó, incendian vivienda de familia católica (La Jornada, 13 de marzo de 2014)

 Incendian dos casas de indígenas en Chiapas (El Universal, 12 de marzo de 2014)

Detiene a dos tzotziles por quemar casas en Chiapas (El Universal, 12 de marzo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony once again postpone possible return following new aggression (18 March 2014)

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: communique from the Las Abejas Civil Society in Acteal

March 1, 2014

@ Imagen de archivo, CDHFBC

@ CDHFBC archive

On 22 February, in observance of the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre (1997), the Las Abejas Civil Society published a new communique pronouncing itself on the decision of a U.S. court to dismiss the case against ex-president Ernesto Zedillo for his responsibility for the massacre: “Three days ago we learned that a U.S. court had declared that ‘Zedillo remains exempt from legal responsibility… for the deaths of 45 indigenous persons in 1997.’  The next day, President Obama was in Mexico to visit President Peña Nieto to thank him for the energy reform which will allow transnational corporations to take control of Mexico’s oil […] so we are indignant but unsurprised that the U.S. would declare that Zedillo is innocent in terms of the Acteal massacre.  Would they really condemn him, if they are from the same mafia?”

In other news, regarding the possibility of a definitive return of those displaced from the Puebla ejido who have been resettled temporarily in Acteal since August, Las Abejas noted that “the state government, by means of the subsecretary for religious affairs, has committed itself to compensate all the damages caused by the Presbyterian brothers who provoked this violence against the Catholic brothers; the government will compensate the lost possessions, the destroyed chapel, and the burned houses.  It seems that soon the Catholics will be able to return to their homes.  But it looks as though it will be as in 2001, a return without justice, or at most, incomplete justice.  Those who provoked the displacements in 1997 and 2013 continue free.”

For more information (in Spanish):

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

Lamentan Las Abejas de Acteal que no se juzgue a Zedillo (Expreso de Chiapas, 23 de febrero de 2014)

Corte de EU desecha apelación vs Ernesto Zedillo en caso Acteal (Aristegui Noticias, 20 de febrero de 2014)

Video: Colonia Puebla: la impunidad impide el retorno de desplazados (SanCristencia, febrero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

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

 


Chiapas: those displaced from the Puebla ejido return to their community to harvest coffee

January 22, 2014

(@http://caravanapuebla.wordpress.com/)

(@http://caravanapuebla.wordpress.com/)

On 17 January, 17 families representing 98 persons from the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó municipality, who had been displaced for more than 4 months returned to their community of origin to harvest their coffee plants.  They were accompanied by Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, Secretary General for Governance, and national and international observers.

These families fled from the Puebla ejido due to the increase in number of death-threats and aggressions resulting from a conflict over possession of land on which a Catholic church was being built.  In contrast to the failed attempt at return made in August 2013, the displaced were received in Puebla with live music provided by the ejidal commissioner, Agustín Cruz Gómez, and an Evangelical group, both of whom had previously been indicated as being the principal aggressors in the violent acts of the previous months.  White roses were given to officials as a sign of peace.

Eduardo Ramirez called on the displaced to judge whether they would remain definitively, promising his support if they did so: “We understand that you go to cut your coffee and that you will evaluate whether to stay or not in your ejido; we will be attentive to your decision.  The state executive sent me, and there are national human rights groups, in addition to the presence of non-governmental organizations that are recording everything, so that you know that for us it is important than the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó municipality, be at peace or on the way to peace.”

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) noted in an Urgent Action published on the occasion of the provisional return that “the 10-day stay of the displaced persons who will go harvest their coffee as a means of survival constitutes a civil and peaceful act that demands principally that the state authorities immediately guarantee the necessary conditions for permanent return, in addition to the restitution of the individual and collective rights of which they had been arbitrarily deprived.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente: Familias desplazadas del ejido Puebla retornan para el corte de café” (CDHFBC, 17 de enero de 2014)

Blog de la Misión de Observación: http://caravanapuebla.wordpress.com/

Los 98 desplazados regresan al ejido Puebla (Cuarto Poder, 18 de enero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

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: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalhó

August 4, 2013

Iglesia de Chenalhó (@acteal.blogspot.com)

On 20 July, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) released an Urgent Action in light of the increase in violence against Catholics in the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó, in the highlands of Chiapas, where two persons, Mariano Méndez Méndez and Luciano Méndez Hernández, were arrested by Evangelicals, “using the pretext of their having poisoned the community water.”  Both are support-bases for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).  A third person, Juan López Méndez, a Baptist, was also arrested for having expressed his disagreement with these kidnappings.  Witnesses cited by the CDHFBC declared that the three were beaten before being transferred to the offices of the Special Prosecutorial Office for Indigenous Justice in San Cristóbal de las Casas on 21 July.

In an update to its initial Urgent Action, the CDHFBC denounced the Special Office for “obstruction of the work of human-rights defense,” given that “it did not allow for the verification of the physical and psychological situation of the detained, given that several witnesses confirmed that they had been attacked.”

Beyond this, tensions continued in the Puebla ejido, with death-threats directed against Macario Arias Gómez and Francisco López Santis, while the Ejidal Commissioner of Puebla, Agustín Cruz, “has accused the Las Abejas Civil Society of having led and provoked a situation of instability experienced in the ejido over the construction of a new church.”

Furthermore, according to reports made by the CDHFBC, the people of the Puebla ejido lack water, “given that the authorities have decided to empty out the tanks that supply the community, leading to vulnerability among residents” in their totality.

It should be recalled that beyond being a conflict over religious difference, tensions in the Puebla ejido have been based in the use of a territory in this same community: from April to the present, the Catholic families decided to rebuild their church.  On 18 July, a group of people led by ejidal authorities of Evangelical persuasion destroyed what had already been built.

For more information (in Spanish):
Acción Urgente del CDHFBC (CDHFBC, 20 de julio de 2013)
Actualización de la Acción Urgente del CDHFBC (CDHFBC, 21 de julio de 2013)
Denuncia Frayba detención de tres indígenas católicos (La Jornada, 21 de julio de 2013)
Documentan golpiza a 3 indígenas de Chenalhó detenidos por evangélicos (La Jornada, 22 de julio de 2013)
Indagan supuesto envenenamiento de indígenas tsotsiles (El Universal, 21 de julio de 2013)
Acusan a evangélicos de destruir templo en Chiapas (El Universal, 19 de julio de 2013)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

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: 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)