Paramilitary Fire

Some of those displaced by paramilitary attacks in Aldama, Chiapas, Mexico.

By: Gloria Muñoz Ramírez*

Tzotzils from different communities within the municipality of Aldama, Chiapas, have been under fire from gunshots for more than a week and the government does nothing. The lives of men, women and children are in danger. Fear lives among them from sunrise; it doesn’t go away because they hear the shots all day. Now the live in the mountain “to protect themselves from the shooting and some have had to flee to the municipal capital and other places.”

The denunciation that the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) makes, an organism that warned since the first days of April about the intensification of the violence in Los Altos. The weapons, like more than 20 years ago, are shot from Chenalhó, a region in which the federal government armed and trained paramilitary groups to fight the Zapatistas in the first years of the insurgency. Later came the vino la Acteal Massacre and the promises of a disarming that never happened.

Just last December a new humanitarian crisis was unleashed, caused by violence induced between the peoples of Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó because of a land conflict that the government did not resolve and, in fact, it promoted. Hundreds of indigenous peoples paid the consequences and fled into the mountains in order to save their lives.

It’s about, says the Frayba, old agrarian conflicts that have been administered according to political interests, “in an electoral environment of manipulation and control to operate renewed counterinsurgency strategies” and in which they reactivate “civilian armed groups, with a paramilitary cut, linked to organized crime networks,” who attack communities with firearms with the permission and protection of Chiapas authorities.

What has to happen so that the emergency is recognized in the communities of Koko´, Xuxchen, Cotsilman, Tabak and the municipal capital of Aldama and effective measures are activated to stop the violence and displacement? What has to happen so that once and for all the armed groups in the region are disarticulated, disarmed, arrested and punished? Why doesn’t the state government conduct a thorough investigation? Is it just inefficiency or do they have an interest in the growth of violence?

For now, it is urgent to care for the hundreds of displaced and apply “preventive actions to avoid that other communities are forcibly displaced due to armed aggressions in the region.” It’s urgent to change the order of things in Chiapas. Last April 2, the bullets hit one adult and two minors that were going to plant corn. How many more do they want?

*Gloria Muñoz Ramírez publishes a weekly column in La Jornada on Saturdays called “Los de abajo” (Those below). You can email her column in Spanish at:

She also publishes the newspaper “Desinformémonos.”



Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




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