Chiapas: Change of General Secretary for Governance

April 24, 2015

Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda y Manuel Velasco Coello (@AristeguiNoticias)

Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda and Manuel Velasco Coello (@AristeguiNoticias)

Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda and Manuel Velasco Coello (@AristeguiNoticias)

On April 16, Chiapas´ state governor, Manuel Velasco Coello, announced the resignation of his General Secretary for Governance, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, who is to be replaced by the PRI official Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda. Ramírez Aguilar, a former mayor of Comitán, will return to the House of Deputies.  In July 2013, he solicited the license for the position that he just left.

Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda was a founding member of the Federal Congress’s Commission for Concordance and Pacification, which participated in dialogues with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).  He held the position of federal representative in the time-period during which he was coordinating the PRI Chiapas group and oversaw the Southern Border Commission.  Before taking up his new charge, he was head of the Secretary for Planning, Public Management, and Government Program.

No explanation was given as to the change in the cabinet, though rumors point to differences between the Mexican Green Ecologist Party (PVEM, to which the governor belongs) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), in a government that has been in alliance between these two parties.  Rumors indicate that the resignation of Ramírez Aguilar took place following a meeting between the state potentate and the federal Secretary for Governance (SEGOB), Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. Other sources stress the presumed connections between the state official with a “paramilitary organized crime group” as a possible motive.

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: nuevo secretario de Gobierno; el anterior, señalado por nexos con paramilitares (Aristegui Noticias, 18 abril de 2015)

Nombran nuevo secretario general en Chiapas (El Universal, 17 de abril de 2015)

Gobernador de Chiapas va a la Segob y luego cambia a su secretario de Gobierno (Proceso, 16 de abril de 2015)

La Secretaría General de Gobierno, la rifa del tigre (Chiapas Paralelo, 21 de abril de 2015)

Chiapas: Pilgrimage of the Believing People ends in Tuxtla Gutiérrez after a four-day journey

April 23, 2015

Peregrinación del Pueblo Creyente, en el camino (@SIPAZ)

Pilgrimage of the Believing People (@SIPAZ)

On 26 March, the pilgrimage held by the Believing People ended, having begun in Simojovel four days prior.  Its close came after 120 kilometers were covered by foot and the pilgrimage arrived in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.  This peaceful action was born through a series of demands that include the closure of bars, an end to murders, and the abolition of prostitution, drug-trafficking, and narco-politicians.  For two years, these demands have led to a series of pilgrimages and actions carried out in Simojovel to denounce the situation of insecurity in which the municipality finds itself.  The federal and Chiapas state governments have been absent while the death-threats have worsened against the priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Peréz Peréz, and the rest of the clerical staff.

Before the march arrived in Tuxtla, the Secretary of Governance Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar publicly expressed that the Chiapas state government was disposed to set up a negotiation table with the Believing People, to “specify and evaluate a just response to their demands.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Nuestra lucha es pacífica: Pueblo Creyente de Chiapas (Chiapas Paralelo, 27 de marzo de 2015)

Miles de indígenas marchan en Chiapas para exigir alto a la corrupción y la narcopolítica (Sin Embargo, 27 de marzo de 2015)

4 días de peregrinación para exigir justicia y seguridad en los Altos de Chiapas (Animal Político, 27 de marzo de 2015)

Gobierno del estado invita al pueblo creyente de Simojovel al diálogo (El Heraldo de Chiapas, 26 de marzo de 2015)

Peregrinación arriba hoy a capital de Chiapas para exigir acciones contra la delincuencia organizada (Chiapas Paralelo, 26 de marzo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chipas: Beginning of grand pilgrimage of the Believing People from Simojovel (24 de marzo de 2015)

Chiapas: Believing People from Simojovel announce pilgrimage to Tuxtla to demand peace and justice (22 March 2015)

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

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

Chiapas: The detained of the Dialogue Commission in the conflict of Montes Azules are released

June 11, 2014
"Today they are free (@Serapaz)

“Today they are free (@Serapaz)

On May 30, the 22 Tzeltal, Chol, and Lacandon representatives of the Council of Communal Properties of the Lacandon Zone, of the organization ARIC-ID and of other organizations from Ocosingo were released “under the reserves of the law.” The released reported that they were freed after an agreement was signed in Mexico City with federal and state authorities. The Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center considers that these representatives were detained “arbitrarily” last May 29 in Tuxtla Gutierrez when they went to an appointment with the Secretary of Government of Chiapas, Eduardo Ramirez to “dialogue” about the regularization of three villages in the Lacandon Jungle (Rancheria Corrozal, Salvador Allende and Nuevo San Gregorio), and to demand the freedom of Gabriel Fernando Montoya Oseguera, who was originally accused of the alleged abduction of Julia Carabias.

The Indians declared that the federal government, through the Commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples, Jaime Martinez Veloz, signed an agreement to open a negotiation table with the undersecretary of Human Rights of the Ministry of Interior. The meeting should take place in Mexico City and should be attended by the state authorities and the defense of Gabriel Montoya Oseguera, advisor to the Communal Lands of the Lacandon area. The arrest of Montoya on May 15 led to demonstrations that allegedly generated the detention of the 22 indigenous. They reported the suspension of roadblocks and demonstrations until an agreement was reached. Services and Advices for Peace (Serapaz) reported that “an agreement between the Commission for Dialogue, Peace, and Justice in the Lacandon Jungle and the representation of the Federal and State Government was signed. Both parties agree to privilege dialogue and the construction of agreements to resolve the problem that exists in the Lacandon area.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Otra oportunidad a la palabra: Los 22 compañeros de la comisión de diálogo que fueron detenidos hoy son libres (Serapaz, 30 de mayo de 2014)

Privación Arbitraria de la Libertad a indígenas y Defensor de Derechos Humanos perpetrada por el gobierno de Chiapas (CDHFBLC, 30 de mayo de 2014)

Liberan a 22 indígenas detenidos en Chiapas (Proceso, 31 de mayo de 2014)

Criminalizar a pobladores de Montes Azules y la Lacandona, una infamia (Chiapas Paralelo, 31 de mayo de 2014)

Liberan a 22 indígenas tras un acuerdo entre autoridades de Chiapas y federales (La Jornada, 1 de junio de 2014)

Liberan a 22 indígenas lacandones en Chiapas (El Universal, 31 de mayo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Government arrest members of a commission for dialogue on the Montes Azules conflict (June 10, 2014)

Chiapas: Peace Network calls for “inclusive processes in the use, conservation and management of the Biosphere Reserve of Montes Azules” in the face of the increasing problematic in the Lacandon Jungle, (June 10, 2014)

Chiapas: Government arrests members of a commission for dialogue on the Montes Azules conflict

June 10, 2014


On May 29, a committee comprised of leaders and representatives of the Council of Communal Properties of the Lacandon Community Zone, members of the Independent ARIC organization, and a member of the civil organization “Services and Advices for Peace (SERAPAZ), Mario Marcelino Ruiz Mendoza, who accompanied the commission as a mediator, were arrested by agents of the State Attorney General of Chiapas.

The arrest occurred near the House of Government in Tuxtla Gutierrez, where the commission was going to start a negotiation table with the Secretary of Government, Eduardo Ramirez Aguilar. The stated objective of the session was to address different issues such as the release of the legal adviser of the Lacandon community, Gabriel Montoya; the recognition and respect of the free choice of the agricultural authorities of the Communal Properties; and the resolution of the agrarian situation in the open conflict in Montes Azules.

Around midnight, the SERAPAZ mediator was released, while the other members of the commission remained detained.

The detainees are accused of riot, attacks on public roads and kidnapping, crimes supposedly committed during the demonstrations, and roadblocks that occurred in recent weeks in the Lacandon Jungle to protest against what their participants consider the interference of environmental organizations in the communities’ decision-making.

Pablo Romo, a SERAPAZ member, expressed that the government of Manuel Velasco betrayed the negotiation process and does not listen to the needs of the population: “The arrest of the 28 people is a clear expression of the government’s insensitivity. People were approaching the government to generate a discussion process to give a solution to their demands. “

For more information (in Spanish)

Accion urgente: Detención de autoridades y representantes del Consejo de Bienes Comunales de la Zona Lacandona, organizaciones sociales y un miembro del equipo de SERAPAZ (SERAPAZ, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Actualización urgente: Mediador de Serapaz libre, persiste detención arbitraria de más de 20 personas (SERAPAZ, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Gobierno de Chiapas detiene a campesinos de la lacandona y a integrante de SERAPAZ (Chiapas Paralelo, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Detienen a 30 indígenas que iban a dialogar con autoridades sobre protesta en Ocosingo (Proceso, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Reportan detención de integrante de Serapaz en Tuxtla Gutiérrez (La Jornada, 29 de mayo de 2014)

Detienen a activistas que fueron citados por el gobierno de Chiapas (Sididh, 30 de mayo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Peace Network calls for “inclusive processes in the use, conservation and management of the Biosphere Reserve of Montes Azules” in the face of the increasing problematic in the Lacandon Jungle, (June 10, 2014)

Chiapas: Social and civil organizations denounce “simulated” kidnapping of Julia Carabias (June 2, 2014)

Chiapas: Federal and state government announce imposition of territorial order in Lacandona Jungle (2 June 2014)

Chiapas: historic accord in the Lacandona Zone (3 May 2014)


Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society challenges Mexican justice system and continues demanding justice

May 2, 2014

Retorno de desplazados en Colonia Puebla (@SIPAZ)

Return of the displaced to Puebla Colony (@SIPAZ)

On 22 April, in observance of the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre (1997), the Las Abejas Civil Society challenged the Mexican justice system by calling into question the responsibility of the two persons arrested in the Puebla Colony on the charge of burning the home of one of the ejidal members who were at that time displaced in Acteal.  Referring to the case of the three prisoners who were recently released, they affirmed that “we think that the government is acting in the same way as with the three persons from Simojovel […].  The three were accused of fabricated charges and were tortured as though they weren’t human […].  They were unjustly punished.  Would this be because as indigenous persons they discriminate against us and insult us with all these cruel and inhuman acts, treating as though we were not human.”  They remarked that “indeed, they have not arrested those who kidnapped Father Manuel Pérez Gómez” in Puebla in August of last year.  They asked, “Would this be because this is the custom of the government, to arrest rapidly those who are innocent and do nothing to those who are in fact culpable?”

With regard to the return of the displaced from the Puebla Ejido on 14 April, the Las Abejas Civil Society denounced that “this was a return without justice, a return lacking the security conditions so that they could return to their homes; this return does not imply that the problem has now been resolved.  It is only because it was very difficult to live in camps that our brothers decided to return.  These 17 families now returned have experienced displacement twice,” previously in 1997.  The Las Abejas indicated that in this sense, the Secretary General of Governance, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, warned that, if problems continued, “what will follow will not be dialogue but instead application of the law.”  The spokesperson added that Las Abejas would not accept “this climate of injustice” and would continue denouncing and seeking “true Justice and Peace.”  The Society requested that the ejidal commissioner of the Puebla ejido “build peace and unity among all members of the community without regard to religion or political organization, because we are all children of God.  Those who recognize God’s word should not be violent with their brothers or make false accusations; they should instead love all and respect their human rights.”

For more information (in Spanish):

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

Abejas de Acteal denuncia prefabricación de “culpables” en el caso de agresiones contra desplazados (Chiapas Paralelo, 23 de abril de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: those displaced from the Puebla ejido return to their community (26 April 2014)

Chiapas: “return without justice” of those displaced from the Puebla ejido (26 April 2014)

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: OCEZ-RC suspends sit-in it had installed in San Cristóbal

April 23, 2014

Plantón OCEZ-RC, abril de 2014 (@SIPAZ)

OCEZ-RC sit-in, April 2014 (@SIPAZ)

On 8 April, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) suspended the sit-in it had installed in San Cristóbal de Las Casas beginning on 31 March.  In a press-conference, members of OCEZ-RC recalled that they had sought to demand a response to their agrarian, justice, and transport demands, among others.  The decision to suspend the sit-in coincided with an agreement made with the authorities to begin negotiations on 22 April.  In a press-release members noted that “we hope that at the 22 April table we will be attended to by functionaries of the government with the capacity to resolve, as led by Secretary General of Governance Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar; we also hope that there will be a serious proposal to resolve all our demands.”  They added that “we have been patient in the search for a solution to our demands, but now we cannot wait any longer, and for this reason we publicly warn Governor Manuel Velasco Coello that, if there is no serious response to our demands, including resolution, we have decided to take other actions.”

For more information (in Spanish):

OCEZ retira plantón (Cuarto Poder, 9 de abril de 2014)

OCEZ levanta plantón (Chiapas Paralelo, 9 de abril de 2014)

OCEZ-RC levanta plantón(El Independiente de Chiapas, 8 de abril de 2014)

Para más información de SIPAZ:

Chiapas: OCEZ-RC installs sit-in in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (10 April 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

March 2, 2014

(@Radio Pozol)

(@Radio Pozol)

On 26 February 2014, there was held an act to hand over the land on which was found the chapel of the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó municipality, as performed by the ejidal commissioner, Agustín Cruz Gómez, transferring it to the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese, as represented in the event by bishop Enrique Díaz Díaz.  This came after the General Direction of Religious Associations of the Secretary of Governance decided that the land under dispute “is federal property in use and administered by the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese.”

It should be recalled that the dispute over this land between Catholics and Evangelical residents led by the ejidal authorities led to the displacement of 17 families (98 persons) who have taken refuge in the Acteal community since August 2013.

At the event was also present Secretary of Governance Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar and Subsecretary for Religious Affairs Víctor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa, who considered themselves witnesses of honor.  The Secretary of Governance decalred that the Evangelicals and Catholics “are here to do good,” such that he called on the Evangelical community to respect the decision made by the Secretary of Governance.  He affirmed that the state government will continue working to resolve the pending issues.

On that same day, 26 February, the Las Abejas Civil Society (to which the majority of the displaced pertain) challenged in a communique that the government “does not speak of justice.”  It noted that “the human-rights violations began with torture, harassment, displacement, robbery of possessions, destruction of the chapel, burning of houses, fabrication of crimes regarding the poisoning of the water, accusing 3 people (Juan López Méndez, Mariano Méndez Méndez, Luciano Méndez Hernández, son of Mariano Méndez Méndez), who were transferred to the Public Ministry to be arrested without any evidence that the water had in fact been poisoned […].  Comrades from civil national and international organizations, this is not the priority solution of the displaced.  They lack other things such as the construction of the chapel, reparation for the burned houses, and compensation for robbed possessions, in addition to the application of justice for the presumed responsible persons who committed these rights-violations.”

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Determinan autoridades que ejido Puebla, en Chenalhó, es propiedad federal (La Jornada, 27 de febrero de 2014)

Boletín del gobierno del estado “Entregan evangélicos predio a católicos de Puebla, Chenalhó”(ICOSO, 27 de febrero de 2014)

Entregan evangélicos de Chenalhó predio a católicos que expulsaron (Milenio, 26 de febrero de 2014)

Comunicado de la Sociedad Civil Las Abejas (26 de 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: Los Llanos and San José El Porvenir reject passage of highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque through their communities

February 14, 2014

Foto @ Frontera Sur México

Photo @ Frontera Sur México

On 7 February, representatives from the Los Llanos ejido, San Cristóbal de Las Casas municipality, and the San José El Porvenir community, Huixtán municipality, reported their opposition to the passage of the planned highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque through their communities.  They indicated having knowledge “that they desire to pass the highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque through our community and so expropriate from us land that is most productive and gives us all to eat.”  They stressed that two roads had already been built on their lands, “and now they want to build a highway.  This is not fair for us, because it puts at risk many of our children and elders who walk through the communities, as well as our animals.  From those lands we feed ourselves; we survive from them, because we have no salaries or wages; we earn our bread day by day by working our mother earth.  We are not opposed to the highway, but we are opposed to the idea that they will take away our lands, which are of fundamental value for the life of our community.”  Similarly, they denounced that the government “has not come to ask us for our permission or not; they simply are saying that the highway will pass through [here], but we are concerned precisely because this land is what gives us to eat; with what will we eat if they take it from us?”

In the case of the Los Llanos ejido, they explained that the construction would imply the displacement of more than 860 persons in that community.  “They have offered us other lands in Rancho Nuevo, supposedly so as to resettle us, but regardless these lands are under litigation because they pertain to Mitzitón.  We do not accept this because it would imply being in conflict with our indigenous brothers who own these lands,” explained the ejidatarios of Los Llanos.  “They have told us that the highway will pass by force, whether we like it or not.  They are seeking to buy off communal leaders by threatening to refuse them infrastructure projects, such as asphalt projects,” they explained in a public denunciation.

The bishop of the San Cristóbal diocese, Felipe Arizmendi, said that “many campesino and indigenous peoples are not seeing this as a benefit for them, but rather as irreversible damage to their lands, which is like a mother that gives them life.  They say that, although they be paid well for their lands, they will lose them forever and they would have no where to sow maize, beans, and coffee–their source of life.  For this reason, many are expressing total opposition to this proposed project.”  Arizmendi explained that a highway is welcomed when it brings benefits to all, not only for touristic agencies and the rich.

For his part, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, secretary of governance of Chiapas, noted that there will be “no retreat” for the project of constructing the highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque.  At a press conference he said that “all the rights of free transit” have been established in the Palenque municipality, this following dialogues taken with residents of all the localities through which the highway would pass.  He added that in Ocosingo there also “have been negotiations and only in two communities is there resistance, but we have now progressed through more than 60 percent of the pathway.”  He observed that in Tenejapa, through where a large part of the highway would pass, “we are building consensus so that people authorize the permits through dialogue.”  With regard to the case of San Cristóbal, he mentioned that “we have a problem with a kilometer in Los Llanos and 14 in Huixtán; that is where we see the most resistance.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Conferencia de Prensa de la Comunidad Indígena Tsotsil de Los Llanos por la Defensa de su territorio (Frontera Sur México, 7 de febrero de 2014)

Tzotziles rechazan autopista entre San Cristóbal de las Casas y Palenque(La Jornada, 9 de febrero de 2014)

Una comunidad tzotzil contra la carretera San Cristóbal-Palenque(Desinformémonos, 10 de febrero de 2014)

En riesgo la paz social por la autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque (Chiapas Paralelo, 3 de diciembre de 2013)

Ejidatarios se oponen a entregar sus tierras para autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque (Chiapas Paralelo,22 de noviembre de 2013)

“No habrá marcha atrás” en proyecto de autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque: gobierno de Chiapas (La Jornada, 26 de noviembre de 2013)


Conferencia prensa de la Comunidad de Los Llanos (Los Tejemedios, 7 de febrero de 2014)

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

January 22, 2014



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:

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: Governor announces new General Secretary of Governance

July 20, 2013

Velasco Coello y Ramírez Aguilar @ Twitter

On 3 July, the state governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, announced that Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar would be his new General Secretary of Governance. Ramírez Aguilar will replace Noé Castañón León in this charge, who had served in this role during the majority of the tenure of the previous governor, Juan Sabines Guerrero (2006-2012). Eduardo Ramírez, member of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM), was the mayor of Comitán de Domínguez from 2008-2010, and during the past elections of 1 July 2012 was elected as a federal deputy of this party.

For more information (in Spanish):

La Jornada: Designa gobernador de Chiapas a Eduardo Ramírez como secretario general de gobierno (03/07/2013)

Proceso: Velasco Coello releva a secretario de gobierno sabinista (03/07/2013)