Chiapas: denunciation of criminalization against environmental activists in San Cristóbal de Las Casas

January 4, 2019


On December 27th, during a press conference that took place at the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, the board of Colonia Maya in the municipality San Cristóbal de Las Casas denounced the existence of arrest warrants against its members and demanded their immediate cancellation.

In June 2016, the construction of a housing estate caused a flooding that affected 20 families in Colonia Maya. As a reaction, various habitants started to organize themselves to defend their rights and the environmental rights.

Since then, the members of Colonia Maya’s board faced various threats and the criminalization of their movement to defend their district.

Three moths ago, the board met with representatives of Manuel Velasco’s government who proposed the construction of a rain drain in the settlement. The board responded that they could not take any decisions without the participation of the the Colonia’s assembly. The arrest warrants were released after that meeting.

In the words of the board about the criminalization: “We are in fear. Fear that justice one more will be bought. During the last days we have affirmed once more that the legal authorities in our country can be bought. We know that some of our members have received arrest warrants without committing any crime. We are being accused of kidnapping, when we only ever acted peacefully, consulting and respecting the settlement’s assembly.”

They solicited “that the hostility and the criminalization against human environmental rights defenders for the land and the territory are eradicated or cease as they are pillars of democracy and with their work they can promote and strengthen the civil participation”.

For more information in Spanish:

Cese la criminalización a defensores de la Madre Tierra (27 de diciembre de 2018, Chiapas Denuncia Publica).

Colonos de la Maya denuncian que les fueron inventados delitos (27 de diciembre de 2018, Noticias Voz e Imagen de Chiapas).

Se defienden activistas demandados (27 de diciembre de 2018, El Heraldo de Chiapas).

Criminalización por la defensa de la Madre Tierra (21 de junio de 2017, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas).

For more information from SIPAZ :

National: 161 Defenders and 40 Journalists Murdered in Last Presidential Term of Office (December 14th, 2018)

Nacional : Se pospone entrega de concesiones de agua vía Internet por seis meses en medio de protestas. (17 de octubre de 2018).

Chiapas: Thirteenth Anniversary of the Acteal Massacre

December 27, 2010

On December 16, as a part of the activities in observance of the 13th anniversary of the Acteal massacre in which 45 Indians were killed on December 22, 1997, the chorus of Acteal and Sak Tzebul, an indigenous rock group, gave a joint concert called “Voices that sow the seeds of peace” in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in order to raise funds for the choir to record an album.

On December 20, 21 and 22, the civil organization “Las Abejas” held a Meeting named “Weaving the Resistance in favor of Autonomy and against Dependence and Counterinsurgency” in Acteal, Chenalho. Participants came from various regions of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Atenco and they explained in their final statement: “We understand autonomy as the right to live as we want, without asking permission and without others imposing on us to live as they want us to; as freedom for every people to make decisions about land, resources, organization and education; and to think for ourselves. Autonomy begins in the heart of every person, it is not just a goal, but the path in which we are already. ” They affirmed their commitment to “forge alliances as we want and to globalize our struggle from below, keeping with our own work, without relying on government aid and programs.” They reported: “Others are upset because we want to live free and they want to end our autonomy, to impose projects, to make us dependent on their programs. When that does not work out, they apply to you counterinsurgency strategies. But we keep up with the resistance. (…) [T] he government has changed color and discourse, but in reality it remains the same: it has changed its lead bullets with “bullets of sugar”, but without leaving the use of lead bullets. It has co-opted leaders, and sought to change the mind and heart of people. (…) We do not accept that because we have dignity. “

On day 22, a Mass was celebrated by the bishop of San Cristobal in the presence of hundreds of participants and many priests from different places of Chiapas. Moreover, young people and children from Acteal had prepared a play whose message was that holding memory may be something lively and promising: “Death will not have the last word but Life”, they said, and “we sing because despite the pain, joy is our strength. “

A few days before the anniversary of the massacre, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report on the admissibility of the Acteal case and found that 13 years is a long enough period to apply the exception to the criteria of “exhaustion of domestic remedies”.

Since March 2005, the Commission had received a complaint submitted by the civil organization “Las Abejas”, to which the victims belonged, and by the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center. It alleged the international responsibility of the Mexican State in the massacre. Considering the non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, it was until earlier this year that the IACHR admitted the case.

The CDHFBC stated that the Commission report confirms the value and proof of the testimony of the victims’ relatives and survivors of the Acteal massacre. He added that the documentation published by the IACHR confirms the responsibility, by act and omission, of the Mexican State in the Acteal massacre, as well as the subsequent denial of justice, leaving unpunished this crime against humanity.

For more information (in Spanish):

– Masacres como la de Acteal suceden ahora todos los días, denuncian Las Abejas (La Jornada, 24 de diciembre de 2010)

Conmemora Las Abejas 13 años de Acteal con acto sobre autonomía (La Jornada, 23 de diciembre de 2010)

– “13 años de la Masacre de Acteal” (Pronunciamiento de la Organización de la Sociedad Civil las Abejas, 22 de diciembre de 2010)

– “13 años de la Masacre de Acteal” (Pronunciamiento de la Organización de la Sociedad Civil las Abejas, 22 de diciembre de 2010)

– Homilía del obispo de San Cristóbal Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel en la misa en Acteal el 22 de diciembre de 2010

– Recuerdan con misa masacre en Acteal (el Universal, 22 de diciembre)

– “El gobierno apuesta al olvido en Acteal” (El Universal, 22 de diciembre de 2010)

ONG: Acteal, 13 años de impunidad (La Jornada, 22 de diciembre de 2010)

– Pronunciamiento del Encuentro tejiendo Resistencia y Autonomia frente a la Contrainsurgencia y la Dependencia (Acteal, 21 de diciembre de 2010)

– Acteal bajo el signo de la impunidad (La Jornada, 21 de diciembre de 2010)

– CIDH: aún no se ha identificado a todos los responsables de la masacre de Acteal (La Jornada, 21 de diciembre)

Boletín: CIDH presenta informe sobre la admisibilidad de la Masacre de Acteal (CDHFBC, 20 de diciembre de 2010)

For more information from SIPAZ:

– Chiapas: “Las Abejas” present the event “Voices that sow the seeds of peace” (December 14, 2010)

– Chiapas: “Las Abejas” and Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center celebrate admission of the Acteal case in the IACHR (November 26, 2010)

– Chiapas: Las Abejas indignant over the release of 15 of those responsible for the Acteal massacre (October 26, 2010)

Chiapas: Violations of the Ch`ol people’s right to land continue in Tila

February 4, 2010

On January 29, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (CDHFBC, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas) published a press release expressing their “deep rejection of and estrangement from the Mexican government” for continuing to violate the rights of the Ch´ol people to their territory within in the Tila ejido. The organization confirmed that the Municipal Council of Tila, along with the State Congress and Government, has persisted in the dispossession of 130 hectares within the Tila ejido. This continues despite the fact that the ejido members have already won an appeal that restores their full rights to the dispossessed lands in addition to paying reparations for damages incurred.

The press release also affirms that the state government has begun a campaign of intimidation against the ejido authorities in order to press them to accept an “agreement” regarding the land and as a result avoid having to comply with the appeal. It also mentions that an apparent “interest in provoking a social conflict between the Tila ejido members and the neighboring residents in order to create a sense of fear among the latter that they will be forcefully displaced and expelled from the ejido as a consequence of the appeal.”

The CDHFBC denounced the violation of sentences handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and of Article 21 of the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), which conclude that the rights of indigenous communities to their lands is based in the integrity and material survival of said communities, as well as the social reproduction of their customs and spiritual lives. Within this framework, the state government has the obligation to “adopt special measures to guarantee indigenous communities the full and egalitarian exercise of the rights to the territories they have traditionally utilized and occupied; as well as the obligation to adopt special measures that respect, protect and guarantee their property rights with full respect to their territory.”

For More Information:

Boletín: Continúan violaciones del derecho al territorio al Pueblo Ch´ol de Tila (CDHFBC Press Release in Spanish, 29/01/10)