Ejido residents of San Jerónimo Bachajón and San Sebastián Bachajón make a denunciation. Photo: courtesy of Frayba
*The Tseltal people have attended seven hearings with state government authorities to demand the freedom of the ejido residents charged, but as of now there is no attention and they just “put them off so that the legal process would advance.”
By: Yessica Morales, Editor
Ejido residents of San Jerónimo Bachajón and San Sebastián Bachajón  in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, remembered that last October 15, 2020, they demonstrated on the Temó crossroads against the construction of the National Guard barracks and for the recognition of their agrarian authorities; two of their compañeros were arrested because of this act.
They pointed out that the Chilón municipal police, the State Police and the National attacked them with stones, sticks and tear gas and beat both people and vehicles, causing injuries, material damages and the arbitrary arrest of José Luis Gutiérrez Hernández and César Hernández Feliciano.
Gutiérrez Hernández and Hernández Feliciano were arrested, tortured and taken to the Ocosingo police headquarters. After that, they transferred them to the Center for Social Reinsertion for those Sentenced in the same municipality [Ocosingo] and then on October 17, they were transferred “like criminals” to the “El Amate” prison in Cintalapa without any explanation.
Given what happened, ejido residents demanded the unconditional freedom of Gutiérrez Hernández and Hernández Feliciano, as well as punishment of those responsible for the October 15 repression.
They also asked for the reparation of material damages, like recognition of the agrarian authorities elected by means of uses and customs.
We demand that there is no militarization of our territories and cancellation of the construction of the National Guard barracks in Jukulton community, Chilón municipality, because it brings the dispossession of our territory, the destruction of our culture brings more violence, alcoholism and prostitution, the ejido residents said.
They placed responsibility on municipal president Carlos Idelfonso Jiménez Trujillo and on the National Guard for any act of repression, threat, persecution and/or other attempts against ejido residents.
The National Guard warns the peoples
Father Marcelo: The Church’s mission is to be an “advocate for justice and a defender of the poor.” Photo Courtesy: Frayba
The indigenous priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, coordinator of the Social Pastoral of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas Diocese, questioned Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico and Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, governor of Chiapas, about whether it’s a crime to demonstrate peacefully.
Pérez Pérez explained that peaceful demonstration is a right that cannot be repressed for any reason, and therefore, he asked for a dialogue table at the government palace in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Of the three dialogue tables that he had, he emphasized that the repressor never appeared, nor did the Interior Ministry demand it, therefore they didn’t obtain any result.
Faced with this situation, the arrogance of Mr. Carlos Idelfonso Jiménez Trujillo is noticeable, when a municipal authority ignores the state authority it’s because someone in the state and federal government is supporting him, the priest said.
He stated that the presence of the National Guard is a red alert for the Native peoples because it goes against the indigenous cosmovision, but also because some municipal presidents use them to repress the people.
Photo courtesy of Frayba: Criminalization of the struggle against militarization of the land and territory in the Tseltal pueblo of Chilón
The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) and the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Prodh) announced that the ejido owners and their Tseltal families have historically been defenders of their land and territory against militarization and the megaprojects.
They added that with a new base in defense of territory, as with their culture, the Tseltal people began a struggle against new forms of invasion and territorial militarization, such as construction of the National Guard Headquarters,
In accordance with international standards in matters of protection of indigenous peoples’ rights, they emphasized that the implementation of any type of project, whether by the State or by individuals, is obliged to carry out a consultation in order for the peoples to give their consent in a free and informed manner.
They emphasized that the forma organizational form of the native peoples is based on their maximum authority, “The Assembly,” which is provided for in Mexican law. However, authorities of the three levels of government omitted their responsibility by not generating the mechanisms necessary for the realization of a prior, free and informed consultation.
Finally, they said that the criminalization that community defenders are subjected to for opposing the militarization shows the context of discrimination, inequality and vulnerability that the indigenous peoples in Mexico face.
 The issue of building a National Guard Headquarters on land belonging to San Sebastián Bachajón and San Jerónimo Bachajón is of vital importance in the overall Chiapas political picture. The land in question is adjacent to the Agua Azul Cascades, an important and beautiful tourist attraction not far from the Palenque archaeological site, also a mega tourist attraction. The government plan is to build a super-highway from the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas to the city of Palenque, with an exit at the Agua Azul Cascades, thus making the Cascades more accessible to mass tourism and then converting the land into an luxury tourist destination complete with a European 5-star hotel, a boutique hotel, conference center and a lodge for corporate retreats. See: https://chiapas-support.org/2019/05/23/the-san-cristobal-palenque-highway-is-back-and-so-is-the-resistance/
For many years, the Tseltal Maya people in San Sebastián Bachajón and San Jerónimo Bachajón have resisted the San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway (the government has now re-named it the Highway of the Cultures) and have suffered repression because of it: several murders and a number of ejido members thrown into prison for protesting. Having a National Guard Headquarters there assures the government a military presence that is able to repress the resistance to both the super-highway and the subsequent conversion into a luxury tourist resort.
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo on Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee