ORGANIZED CRIME “BEHIND THE MURDER” OF CHERÁN ACTIVIST
By: Ernesto Martínez Elorriaga
Guadalupe Campanur Tapia, 32, “was very active in the community rounds, in the work of the forest guards and in the cultural workshops. And finally, she was a good woman,” remembers Margarita Tapia Capiz, her mother. The last time that she saw her daughter was last Sunday.
The body of a strangled woman was found Tuesday in a plot of land located 17 kilometers from Cherán, between Santa Cruz Tanaco and Carapan, at the side of the highway. It was a surprise to all the people of Cherán. No one imagined that that the cadaver was Lupita, as they found out. They knew that it was she because she was carrying identification, commented an uncle that refused to give his name.
Salvador Campanur, the former mayor, leader of Cherán and relative of Guadalupe, commented that it’s probable that organized crime is behind the murder, after remembering that she has had serious conflicts with the neighbors in Santa Cruz Tanaco, “but it’s not the time to talk.”
He commented that they observe Cherán from outside, “from the bad government, organized crime and the political parties;” they seek any detail to take over this community that governs itself under the principle of uses and customs; that is, it doesn’t have a mayor elected at the ballot box, but rather by a council designated in the communal assembly.
“There are no police, but rather a community round that guarantees security one hundred percent inside of the community, but outside of the town there is no control.”
People met in small groups on the municipal plaza personas and commented in a soft voice on the murder of the activist, who disappeared last weekend, but was not reported to the authorities because on occasions did guard duty with the community round or met with groups from the four neighborhoods of Cherán, Tapia Capiz commented.
Mario López Hernández, one of the council members of this Purépecha municipality, said that they didn’t want to talk much about the murder until the delegation from the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) concludes the investigations. “We know that Guadalupe was kidnapped or “lifted up” (levantada), but we don’t have more details and we don’t know if anyone accompanied her.”
Pedro Chávez, president of the high council, said that although they don’t have indicia of threats, they don’t discard that crime is behind the homicide. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we are waiting for results from the PGR and the state attorney general, but we are also investigating.”
He said that it was a hard blow to the community to know that a compañera with the characteristics of Guadalupe “was found in that way on the outskirts of our territory; then the alert was definitely turned on, it worries us because we are vulnerable to situations of this kind.”
In April 2011, the town of Cherán faced organized crime that had looted its forests. Since then it disowned the municipal authorities that were colluded with the woodcutters and disarmed and fired the police. “Many interests were affected and they are not in agreement with how we do things,” Salvador Campanur said.
“Guadalupe was an “autodefensa,” part of the round the same as all the collectivity. We continue with the bonfires and we have four barricades at the accesses to the town. She participated in security and in social work. Whoever attacked her is provoking the whole community and they want us to say something, that’s why we’re on alert, despite the fact that we guaranty the tranquility within our territory there is insecurity outside of it, and Guadalupe’s death is a message from organized crime and from other fronts that are dedicated to dispossession,” Salvador Campanur emphasized.
“The same ones participated in defense of the forests as in the community round, but we also saw here in the delivery of supports to the most vulnerable groups, that’s why the attack of which she was the victim and that cost her life was (directed) against all of us,” said María Hurtado, a member of the council.
Guadalupe lived on one of the seven blocks at the center of Cherán. A humble home that she shared with her mother Margarita Tapia and her father Rubén Campanur, as well as her brothers Florentino, Juan and Francisco, all of them campesinos, although they also participate in the community rounds, which are nothing else than the Cherán police.
Of the approximately 18,000 inhabitants of Cherán, hundreds of them work in the United States; it has even been one of the indigenous municipalities that exported the largest number of people to the neighbor country of the north. Jesús, Gloria and Bertha, the brother and sisters of Guadalupe work on the other side of the border.
There is only a wooden table with a white cloth, flowers, a photo of her and a crucifix in the small room where Guadalupe’s body was waked. There is only sadness and pain among her closest beings, who at times come out of the two or three rooms onto the small patio to get a little sun on this cold day.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee