Indigenous Zapatista Supporter Murdered in Chiapas


The Agua Azul Cascades, near San Sebastián Bachajón

The Agua Azul Cascades, near San Sebastián Bachajón

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, March 22, 2014

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle from Chilón municipality, was assassinated this Friday on a dirt road in the same location. According to versions picked up by La Jornada, the indigenous man received at least 20 shots.

Koman Ilel, an alternative media of this city, pointed out that Gómez Silvano, a 21-year old Tzeltal campesino, “participated in the construction of autonomy on land recuperated from the Virgen de Dolores plot” in the municipality and was the regional coordinator of the Sixth Declaration, convoked by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish). His community is organized in resistance with the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido.

According to the local press, Gómez Silvano was allegedly traveling alone in a small Nissan farm truck. His body was found at the Chapapujil crossing, near the municipal capital of Chilón. According to “unofficial” versions of the state’s judicial authorities, the Public Ministry agent Octavio Bautista Martínez arrived at the crime scene to pick up the body of the young indigenous leader, but a large group “of masked people” had taken it away “to bury it.”

For its part, Koman Ilel remembers that less than a year ago Juan Vázquez Guzmán, a leader of the Sixth from San Sebastián Bachajón, was executed, also in the capital of Chilón. “Why do they murder them?” the informative note asks, and exposes that the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido “has maintained a strong struggle against the dispossession of its territory for years.”

It points out that: “different actors, among which are found the municipal, state and federal governments; transnational companies (Norton Consulting) and paramilitary groups impel legal and illegal strategies for accomplishing one of the region’s most ambitious projects, part of the Plan Puebla-Panamá: the Palenque Integrally Planned Center, a network of infrastructure and services that seeks to join together natural and archaeological attractions for an elite tourism,” converting the indigenous population “into servants,” in their own communities.

One of the government strategies for securing territorial control, adds the information from Koman Ilel, “has been the cooptation or intimidation of ejido authorities, as well as legal persecution and selective murders of those that are opposed to being dispossessed, as is the case with the compañeros Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano and Juan Vázquez Guzmán.”

The Green Ecologist Party of Mexico currently governs both Chilón and Chiapas. The authorities have been complicit or remiss, at least, faced with the aggressions systematically suffered by the ejido owners in resistance. Mayor Rafael Guirao Aguilar, for sure, also presides over the state’s Green Chiapas Foundation, which supports his fellow party member Governor Manuel Velasco Coello.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Sunday, March 23, 2014

En español:


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