Emergency in the Chol town of Tila, Chiapas

The Tila ejido marches.

By: Magdalena Gómez

Starting last June 2, paramilitary aggression and threats against the Tila ejido in Chiapas have intensified. [1] They accuse, its authorities point out, “that we are robbing them of their 130-hectare property and that they have more than 200 private deeds.” With that, the root of the injustice is again put on the table without the State, at all 3 levels taking charge of the potential for violence, or it does so, in fact, by permitting the illegal behavior of groups with a long trajectory in that zone.

Remember: the Chol people, in the Tila ejido of Chiapas, were affected by the dispossession of 130 hectares of their territory, occupied unconstitutionally by the municipal council of Tila, following the publication of Decree 72 on December 17, 1980, issued by the governor and the Congress of the state of Chiapas. In their defense, they filed a lawsuit for protection on April 14, 1982 (259/1982), with the first court, which was resolved 26 years after its presentation, on December 16, 2008, conceding the order of protection to the Tila ejido and ordering the municipal council of Tila, the governor of the state of Chiapas, the local Congress and the Public Registry of Property and Commerce to immediately restore the lands to the Tila ejido and to cancel every kind of deed that would privatize them. Nine years after the resolution, the successive governments have alleged the physical and material impossibility of complying with the judgment, and therefore they have argued that only indemnification be required for those lands.

The Chol ejido owners have insisted that upon being restored to them, as is fitting, they would head up an internal process of de negotiations with those who currently occupy the lands that were taken away from them, and would do it from a position of authority. In November 2010 a case of non-execution of judgment (1302/2010) was initiated in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN). It was assigned to then Minister Olga María del Carmen Sánchez Cordero, who elaborated a project that attempted to condition the judgment’s execution, rejecting, that yes, the indemnification would include measures so that the lands would be returned to the patrimony of the ejido and from there the lands in the possession of third parties would be legalized. However, the majority of the ministers suggested the substitute fulfillment (indemnification), making use of an ability of the Court in cases in which said fulfillment would occasion a greater damage to society.

Implicitly, according to the Court’s views, on behalf of society, in this case, it would understand those who are in possession of the Chol ejido’s lands. The now former minister withdrew her project. To realize a new one, she requested diverse experts from the Autonomous National University of Mexico that is now finished. Nevertheless, the case has remained practically in limbo in the SCJN, without resolution. Facing this brief recap, the meaning of the November 8, 2015 decision of the Ejido Assembly, the maximum body of the ejido where the Chol people are settled, is clear in the sense of self-executing the 2008 court decision and initiating the construction of their autonomy as indigenous people, according to what Article 2 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization establish. This is how they expressed it: “One more time we demand that the municipal council of Tila, Chiapas withdraw to where it belongs, since here in the ejido not one centimeter of terrain belongs to it… Now it has been self-determined via general agreement that the municipal council will leave our territory, and that the nest of paramilitaries and partisan politicians get out of our town. Because of that the Federation sent soldiers and police… We denounce the false commissioners named by the state government… who are deceiving the settlers, saying that the ejido owners are going to burn their houses or that they are going to run them out.” For almost two years they have advanced in the construction of autonomy in different ambits, among others community justice, always in the midst of tension.

The Judicial Power at its highest level does not contribute to resolving critical cases about the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights and, as we know, when resolutions are issued they may offer only half a remedy, as in the case of the Yaqui tribe, it is not realized that in fact they lose all meaning upon not being executed. As to Tila it is paradoxical that they find it difficult to reorient a case that was undertaken via the agrarian route, when recognition of the indigenous peoples didn’t exist. Today they have all the elements and do not use them. What to say about the Executive Power, federal and state: they permit or encourage conflicts to grow without any notion that the responsibility belongs to them. Their gaze is focused elsewhere, on other interests. It’s urgent to stop the aggression towards those who achieved that justice recognized their right. There is still time.

[1] This is one of the conflicts denounced by the CNI-EZLN in the communiqué “The Offensive of above, versus the movement below.” According to the compañer@s in Tila, adherents to the EZLN’s 6th Declaration and members of the National Indigenous Congress, the paramilitaries say they have formed the “Special Forces of Tila” and are prepared to attack.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






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