By: Hermann Bellinghausen
Tsotsil Maya residents of Magdalena Aldama, in the Chiapas Highlands, denounced incessant armed attacks from Chenalhó against many Aldama communities: “Today we reiterate once again that here in our town we live under threat, under the rain of shots from Santa Martha paramilitary groups in Chenalhó municipality.” They add: “We have been announcing the threats and aggressions that we suffer day after day.” Last weekend, there were three people injured by bullets and yesterday morning the harassment of San Pedro Cotzilnam worsened.
They denounce that: “despite the presence of the Indigenous Prosecutor’s office and the Public Ministry (PM) in the capital of Aldama, where they came to take statements from the wounded,” when the Santa Martha paramilitaries initiated another attack, “the prosecutor and the PM refused to witness the armed aggressions; they didn’t want to go down into the communities or know the motive.”
They state that: “we are tired and fed up with this situation that we suffer as peoples who they dispossess of 60 hectares and they want to finish off at once. This is the reality that Chiapas experiences; not just Magdalena Aldama is suffering these armed attacks from paramilitary groups, but also in several towns like Chalchihuitan, Tila ejido, Cuxuljá Zapatista community, among other communities and towns.” They reiterate that: “what may happen” will be the responsibility of “the governments that have never taken care of this situation. They mention that Santa Martha “is in itself the continuation of paramilitarism and is the history that has been repeated since 1994 and 1997. In other words, it’s low-intensity warfare against the peoples who struggle for their rights and for life.”
Just this Sunday, September 13, an “intense armed attack” was recorded from almost 30 attack points in Chenalhó. “There are firearms detonations from the paramilitaries throughout the river strip that divides these two neighboring towns, against the following Aldama communities: Ch’ayom te’, Juxton, Stselej Potov, Cabecera Aldama, Ch’ivit, Yeton, Yoctontik, Sepelton, San Pedro Cotsilna’m, Tabak, Coco’ and Xuxch’en.”
“There have been people displaced since morning,” they reported Sunday night. The shooting continued on Monday.
They point out that the state and federal governments, as well as Chenalhó authorities: “have supported these paramilitary groups that have operated for years. The only thing that they have done is to militarize the Native peoples and threaten to imprison us as peoples. But that doesn’t silence us. We continue the struggle for the total recuperation of our lands that the Santa Martha paramilitaries have dispossessed.”
Presenting themselves as “the voice of Magdalena Aldama,” they denounce: “the human rights center allegedly called the ‘Digna Ochoa Committee’, formed by two people who use to belong to the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS, its initials in Spanish). They have always attacked the other human rights centers and support and back up the paramilitary groups.”
The indigenous people conclude: “the people have said enough, no more dispossession of our lands; if the government doesn’t want to solve this situation, time after time it will be responsible for what may happen. No more promises. We’re not going to waste our time at dialogue tables when they have just administered the conflict.” They warn that they will not go to the tables “because there is no progress. We are not dispossessing anyone, we just fight for what is our. The government knows well who owns the land ancestrally and legally,” something that “it has not been able to resolve.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee