In a press-release published on 23 April, the Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada Center for Human Rights denounced the threats made by the prosecutor from the Public Ministry, Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez, against the human-rights worker Manuel Hernández Aguilar, originally from Betania, Ocosingo municipality.
In a document, the Center reported that on 6 April, communities from the Betania region agreed to arrest someone who had been indicated by several witnesses of the crime of stealing cattle. Since then, efforts have been made to open a dialogue toward an agreement that would compensate for the damages incurred and be established as a precedent with which to avert future problems.
The human-rights center indicated that, despite the intervention of the Governance Delegation, based in Ocosingo, the Public Ministry prosecutor denied any possibility of a communal arrangement, and he made available several different pronouncements threatening the authorities of the Betania ejido with the possibility of opening criminal investigations into the charge of kidnapping. The Center added that the “Betania region, which includes 15 communities, is organized in a traditional way, whereby the indigenous seek to find solutions together to the conflicts which arise in the area. These people have the internal rules and agreements that have been made in assembly to resolve these issues.”
The Center has denounced the threats made by Gómez Gutiérrez, holding him responsible for the peril in which he has placed the defenders and authorities who might intervene in this communal mediation process. It has called on the Chiapas state government, particularly the State Attorney General’s Office, to instruct its workers to respect the communal agreements of the Betania region, Ocosingo muncipality, as based in their indigenous rights and culture. It reiterated its willingness to enter a dialogue, requesting the immediate intervention of the corresponding authorities in finding a favorable solution.
For more information (in Spanish):
Comunicado del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro de la Nada (23 de abril de 2015)