THEY WILL TAKE THE VIEJO VELASCO MASSACRE TO THE PERMANENT TRIBUNAL OF THE PEOPLES
By: Hermann Bellinghausen
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 16, 2014
The Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish) announced in a press conference the pre-hearing With Justice and Peace We Find Truth, which will be held Friday in El Limonar community, in the northern part of the Lacandón Jungle.
The event “seeks to construct another justice from the collective memory of the peoples in the face the impunity promoted by the Mexican State.” Survivors, witnesses and relatives will present especially the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre, occurred in that zone eight years ago and that remains unpunished.
Diego Moreno Vázquez, representing family members of the victims and the massacre’s survivors, confirmed that the case will be presented at the TPP’s pre-hearing. That deadly attack “came to a head in the context of the struggle for agrarian rights inside of the so-called ‘Lacandón Community’ during the government of President Vicente Fox Quezada; despite the denunciations about harassment and threats of eviction that the communities were suffering, the government didn’t do anything to avoid these grave acts.” The mode of the aggressors’ behavior “is framed within the counterinsurgency strategy implemented by the government since 1994, with putting its Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan into effect, when the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) rose up in arms.”
The Chol representative exposed: “Eight years after the massacre the family members continue demanding justice, punishment of the intellectual and material authors of these grave acts and our right to know the truth about what happened, as well as the whereabouts of our disappeared family members. The only thing that the Mexican government has done is to continue nourishing the impunity.”
He remembered that the attack occurred on November 13, 2006: “Some 40 people from the community of Nueva Palestina, very well armed, some with uniforms of the military or Public Security, violently entered Viejo Velasco.” 300 members of the Sectorial Police accompanied them with high-powered weapons “known as ‘goat horns’ and R-15s.” At times, other authorities accompanied them. “They all surrounded the community to later enter homes and steal our relatives’ belongings.”
Filemón Benítez Pérez, Antonio Mayor Benítez Pérez, María Núñez González and Vicente Pérez Díaz (the latter from the aggressor group) died in the acts. Four more were disappeared: Mariano Pérez Guzmán, Miguel Moreno Montejo, Pedro Núñez Pérez and Antonio Peñate López. The survivors fled into the mountains and afterwards were given refuge in the neighboring Nuevo Tila community.
Moreno Vázquez adds: “Faced with the lack of justice we took on the task of looking for our disappeared and on July 6, 2007 with a Civilian Observation Commission we toured the route that goes from Paraíso to Viejo Velasco and we found two bones, which turned out to be from Miguel Moreno Montejo, my father, and Pedro Núñez Pérez. The government said that our family members ‘had grabbed their backpacks and had left for the north.’ It wasn’t until November 2011 that they delivered the remains to us and we gave them a Christian burial.”
Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Antonio Peñate López remain disappeared. The displaced “are borrowing lands or working in different places.” Four Nuevo Tila residents “continue with (pending) arrest warrants, accused of the death of our family members, while to the contrary, they received those displaced that day.”
They run the same risk as Diego Arcos Meneses, who stayed in prison for almost a year “accused of the death of our family members, being that he is a health promoter, like I am, who only offered support” to the displaced.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Thursday, July 17, 2014