Displaced from Los Altos of Chiapas, defenseless against the virus and armed groups

In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, indigenous people from Los Altos de Chiapas wait to receive aid. Photo Afp

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In Los Altos of Chiapas, the displaced Tzotzils from Aldama municipality are in a doubly vulnerable situation. To the attacks from armed groups, tolerated by the state government, are added increasing health risks during the health emergency, without the guarantees of adequate medical attention.

The entry into phase 3 of the health emergency in Mexico places into evidence the fact that the original peoples are highly vulnerable, since their lives are at constant risk,” the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) points out.

The violence intensified since March 24 and said human rights center has recorded 47 attacks that increased during the last week and were carried out systematically.

According to reports from the Permanent Commission of Comuneros and Displaced of Aldama, armed paramilitary groups coming from Chenalhó use the trenches of Tok’oy, Pajaltoj, Oxch’om, Slumka, Vale’tik and Tojtik, of the Saclum and Santa Martha communities, to fire shots directed towards the houses in Xuxch’en, San Pedro Kotsilnab, Koko’, Tabak, and Chivit. Last Monday, the Permanent Commission reported new attacks, which began during the early hours of the morning. According to their testimonies, men dressed in black fired shots from the trenches.

On March 27, Aldama communities in forced displacement filed a request for an amparo (suspension) and for the protection of federal justice for the “definitive suspension of the violence” of armed civilian groups that “act with the acquiescence and tolerance of State officials.” Nevertheless, as of this date “the responsible authorities continue with the omission.”

Violence on the border strip between Aldama and Chenalhó intensified in the midst of the health emergency. The authorities have failed to comply with the suspension plainly granted by a federal judge on March 28, “which resulted in an incident due to a failure to comply with the suspension, which consisted of providing the protection and security that the complainants require,” as well as measures “that guaranty the life, security and personal integrity of the Aldama population in a situation of generalized violence and human rights violations derived from the armed conflict,” according to the resolution of the third district court, with its seat in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, to protect these communities.

The Frayba highlights the United Nations essential guidelines on addressing the pandemic for vulnerable groups: “States must apply additional measures for the purpose of addressing the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 can have on las minorities, because of the remote areas where they live, in which there is limited access to essential goods and services.”

From the beginning of the armed aggressions in March 2018, the Frayba made interventions with 30 authorities from two periods of the los federal and state governments. Nevertheless, impunity persists in serious violations of indigenous rights: arbitrary deprivation of life, forced displacement and depriving the community defender Cristóbal Sántiz of his freedom.

Both the Frayba and the indigenous people urge the governments of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Rutilio Escandón to protect the communities.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


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