Attack on humanitarian aid group in Chiapas; a bullet injures a nun

A displaced child in Aldama who moves from place to place to avoid the bullets.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In a direct attack on a humanitarian aid group for the displaced Tsotsils from Aldama, the Dominican nun María Isabel Hernández Rea, 52, known as Chabelita in Chiapas indigenous communities where she has worked for many years, was injured in the right leg by a high-caliber bullet. The events occurred in Tabak community, which together with Coco, the armed civilians of Santa Martha, Chenalhó have attacked the most in recent days.

The acts occurred at 12:35 pm. It’s necessary to point out that these attacks are every day without exception since weeks ago, which are carried out with weapons for the exclusive use of the Army and that, according to a report from the Permanent Commission of the 115 Displaced Comuneros, this Wednesday’s attack occurred while the National Guard and the state police were patrolling in the area.

The shooting at Tabak started at 8:35 am, coming from Tojtic Telesecundaria in Santa Martha. At the same time a small delegation of volunteers from Caritas and the Trust for the Health of the Indigenous Children of Mexico (Fideo) left San Cristóbal de Las Casas to take food and blankets to the families who have suffered continuous displacement for months due to the shots that a dozen towns in Aldama receive daily.

For this reason, the actress Ofelia Medina, who presides over the Fideo, declared that humanitarian organizations had not dared to take aid to those displaced for many days “who are in the gravest humanitarian emergency.” She adds that: “in the more than 25 years that we have been visiting and supporting the Chiapas communities, never, not even in the times of the government’s worst war, have they attacked us like this.”

She remembers that she and her collaborators have received death threats, attempted expulsion from the state, espionage, robbery, but never an attack like this.

“It was an attack on Cáritas and Fideo,” she maintains. “They seek to prevent us from carrying out the minimum humanitarian actions that are, moreover, almost the only civilian contribution with quality food for the displaced.” These organizations distribute aid to people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, who move from one place to another, or take refuge with acquaintances, in permanent precariousness and anxiety and even now under the torrential rains that batter the region.

Hernández, the injured nun, works in San Andrés Larráinzar parish and is a widely known person. She and other volunteers were shot at noon when they were returning to their vehicle; she wasn’t able to protect herself in time and was hit in the leg.

Also since morning, Cotzilnam and Aldama were being shot at from T’elemax, Santa Martha. A little after the attack on Caritas and Fideo, at 12:54 pm, volleys of shots came from Slumka Saclum, Chenalhó, in the direction of Xuxch’en.

Currently, two more wounded from Aldama are also in the Hospital of the Cultures in San Cristóbal de Las Casas due to injuries that the paramilitaries caused.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) said this afternoon: “It should be noted that the state government of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and the federal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been remiss in response to the constant calls to stop the armed attacks on communities of the Maya Tsotsil people of Aldama, who survive the siege that increases the human rights crisis, especially the food and health crisis.”

The Frayba places responsibility for these events “on the Mexican State for not guaranteeing the security and integrity of pastoral agents, of civil society organizations and of journalists who enter, document and make visible the violence and accompany the communities in forced displacement.” Frayba also demanded: “disarming and disarticulating the armed civilian groups of a paramilitary nature in Chenalhó, those directly responsible for the attacks.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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