Vandalism and the return of Paz y Justicia in the Tila ejido, Chiapas

Members of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI)  in Tila.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Tila ejido, in the northern zone of Chiapas, denounced acts that have altered the fragile stability of its urban core and mark the return of the Paz y Justicia [1] organization (that never really went away), for “acts of vandalism of disgruntled neighbors, not in their entirety,” this Tuesday, August 25. “Between six and seven am they started to tear down the security gates that the general assembly of ejido owners agreed to construct for the population’s security and as a Covid-19 health filter.”

The ejido representation argues being in compliance with the agrarian legislation in effect, and points out as the ones responsible the former municipal president Arturo Sánchez Sánchez and his son Francisco Arturo Sánchez Martínez, “paramilitary intellectual leaders in northern Chiapas,” linked to “the killings in the low zone between 1997 and 1998.” They are the brother and nephew respectively of Samuel Sánchez Sánchez, currently a prisoner in el Amate.

The fight, which isn’t new, between two groups of residents in the municipal seat, is intertwined with conflicting political positions dating back Ernesto Zedillo’s counterinsurgency war in the Chol region, when the Army and the PRI paramilitary group Development, Peace and Justice (Desarrollo Paz y Justicia) generated an armed violence against the resistance of the Zapatista peoples and their allies that cost hundreds of deaths and displaced families, rapes and disappearances stil unresolved today.

By legal means, in recent years the original ejido owners of Tila recuperated their territorial rights, which had been eroded and even alienated by the “avecindados,” in other words residents who are not from the ejido or do not belong to the ejido assembly, but that given the urban condition of the ejido installed themselves over time, coming to control the municipal government and an important part of central Tila, a town with a lot of commerce. This has occurred without legal possession, because the town’s village is settled on ejido lands, the patrimony of 836 ejido owners.

At the end of the last century, Paz y Justicia took over the entire northern zone and with the government’s support controlled Tumbalá, Sabanilla, Salto de Agua and Tila municipalities. When their principal ringleaders fell out of favor and paid with prison for various crimes (but not for the murders that they committed directly or indirectly) the region was pacified to a certain point. Then the ejido legally recuperated its ejido rights and installed a certain autonomy inspired in Zapatismo.

The ejido owners have denounced aggressions and falsifications of the ejido register in order to impose authorities, and blame Miguel Vázquez Gutiérrez and Luciano Pérez López, members of an “alleged legal commission,” who “violate the agreements of the highest authority” and participate in “the groups that destroyed the gate.”

The ejido authority maintains that the aggressors rely on “gang members and drug addicts previously hired.” We would be talking about “young people brought in cars who are unaware of the ejido’s legalization.” They warn about “threats of kidnappings by these armed rioters.”

Civil organizations in the Tzeltal-Chol region have documented that those who “carry out damage and harm” against the ejido are advised and financed by the current municipal president Limbert Gutiérrez Gómez, of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, and the “regional delegate” of Paz y Justicia, and civil servant, Óscar Sánchez Alpuche.

[1] Paz y Justicia is the name of a notorious paramilitary group in the northern part of Chiapas. In an effort to cleanse its bloody reputation, it later took the name of Desarrollo Paz y Justicia (Development Peace and Justice).


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


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