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: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalhó

August 4, 2013

Iglesia de Chenalhó (

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)