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)

 

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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)


Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society warns of violence in Chenalhó “reminiscent of the year 1997″

August 4, 2013

(@Espoir Chiapas)

On 22 July, in observance of the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre (in which 45 persons were killed in 1997), the Las Abejas Civil Society released a new communique in which it shared its indignation regarding the invitation of the former president Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León to participate in the organization “The Elders, a global organization for peace founded by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel”. Las Abejas recalled that “we know well that Zedillo is the primary responsible party in the Acteal massacre […].  If Zedillo, now a member of the Elders, had observed the San Andrés Accords and not formed paramilitary groups in Chiapas, the Acteal massacre would not have taken place, and we would not be writing this communique.”

Beyond this, Las Abejas warned of the violence that has gripped “the Puebla Colony [neighborhood] with the pretext over a dispute over land belonging to the Catholic Church […] just as in the year 1997.”  Explaining, they noted, “The violent actions of the communal authorities of the Puebla Col., upon destroying the project of reconstruction of a Catholic church on Thursday 18 July, and the physical aggression and torture of 3 persons on 20 July, is a clear message expressing hatred and violence.  What is taking place in the Puebla Col. is not a game.  It is for this reason that we are concerned, and we worry for the lives of the Catholics and of our comrades from the Las Abejas Civil Society, as well as all those who do not agree with the violence, as in the case of a Baptist in the Puebla Col., who for the mere reason of refusing to participate in the violence was beaten.”  Las Abejas affirmed that these acts derive from the impunity that prevails in the Acteal case, “because the paramilitaries have now seen that to rob and kill is not punished; on the contrary, they receive prizes from the government.”  They requested “urgently to the competent authorities to provide their immediate attention to the conflict over land […] using peaceful means, without more pretexts and dawdling,” as well as punishment of those responsible for the aggresion against Mariano Méndez Méndez, Luciano Méndez Hernández, and Juan López Méndez.

Finally, they called for the continuation of the struggle for the release of Alberto Patishtán and congratulated their “Zapatista brothers and sisters,” wishing them “much health and strength so that it goes well for them in the little school,” as for the organization made jointly with other indigenous groups from the Itinerant Cathedral “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso,” who desire to participate.

For more information (in Spanish):
Comunicado completo de Las abejas del 22 de julio de 2013
Víctimas de Acteal repudian inclusión de Zedillo en club por la paz (Proceso, 23 de julio de 2013)
Las Abejas condena ingreso de Zedillo a The Elders (La Jornada, 25 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: 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)