The Chiapas hell


San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas. A banner that reads No More Paramilitaries in Zapatista communities.  

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The Mexican southeast is key in the 4T’s political-territorial project. Three of its large megaprojects are located there: the Maya Train, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor and the Dos Bocas refinery. Additionally, many resources for social programs are concentrated there, such as Sembrando Vida; 20 percent of this development instrument is destined only to Chiapas.

It’s not exaggerated to say that, for Obradorism [1], that region of the country is comparable to what Sonora was for the victorious faction of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-17, Michoacán for Lázaro Cárdenas, the Bajío for the PAN or the state of Mexico for the Atlacomulco Group and Enrique Peña Nieto. There is no continuity of a political project apart from its territoriality. And the southeast is the space in which the 4T aspires to be implanted ­permanently.

Two undisputed regional figures were key in forging support for the López Obrador project in that zone: in Tabasco, the lawyer and notary public Payambé López Falconi; in, Chiapas, the businessman Fernando Coello Pedrero.

Don Payambé notarized 20 boxes that documented the fraud that they did to Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the 1994 Tabasco state elections. A close relationship between the two was consolidated then. In 2019, his son Adán Augusto took possession as governor of his state and, last August 26, he was designated Secretary of the Interior (Gobernación). And, his daughter Rosalinda, the wife of Rutilio Escandón, governor of Chiapas, is the general administrator of the Federal Tax Audit in the Tax Administration Service (SAT, its initials in Spanish).

Don Fernando, who died in December 2020, said of AMLO: “I have had a good relationship with the President for many years, I love the President very much and I respect him. I was a friend of his parents and we have always had a good relationship. I have always accompanied him as his honorary advisor.” Coello Pedrero was the grandfather of Senator Manuel Velasco Coello, former governor of Chiapas, a key figure in the Green Party.

On May 13, 2013, Rosalinda López, then a local deputy for Tabasco, and Rutilio Escandón, president of the Superior Court of Justice of Chiapas got married. The governor of Tabasco, Arturo Núñez Jiménez, witnessed the bride. Manuel Velasco Coello, of Chiapas, witnessed for the groom (

The alliance paid off. Rutilio won the candidacy for governor of Chiapas, leaving behind figures of great weight in local politics, like the now Senator Oscar Eduardo Ramírez, head of the Comitán group, who conveniently jumped from the Green Party to Morena.

The presence of the Tabasco Group in Chiapas politics is outstanding. The influence of the general administrator of the SAT in key positions of the local government is very relevant (

With the passage of time, the relationship between Manuel Velasco and Rutilio Escandón deteriorates. In the 2021 elections, the Greens won 35 of the 123 contested municipalities. Morena only won in 25, although many of its candidates in reality come from the self-described ecologists. [2] Worse: some mayors who came through local parties are closer to the Velasco family than to Morena.

The situation has been further complicated with what appears to be the anticipated candidacy of Zoe Robledo, director of the IMSS [3], for the state’s governorship, enhanced by her responsibility in the state’s anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaign, by order of President López Obrador. The move has not set well with other aspirants like Senator Ramírez.

Simultaneous to these quarrels above, below, the regional system of domination constructed after the EZLN armed uprising in January 1994 has entered into crisis. The modalities of alliance of the recycled Chiapas family (the surnames are the same ones that dominated lands and men more than a century ago), with emerging indigenous chiefdoms, religious denominations of a Pentecostal nature, paramilitaries and drug traffickers, framed in a counterinsurgency strategy, is taking water.

Violent conflicts erupt everywhere. Some are not alien to the processes of co-optation and fragmentation of the traditional indigenous chiefdoms, undertaken by the Green Party. Be it Ocosingo (, Tila ( ), Chenalhó and Aldama (, Simojovel and Pantelhó (, Pueblo Nuevo Solitahuacán (, Mitontic and a long etcetera, the model is bursting. The narco-paramilitary violence feeds on the peoples in resistance (often without success), with the congratulations of the state government.

To further aggravate things, against the instructions of President López Obrador to give the teachers conflict in the state a negotiated solution, the government of Rutilio Escandón has been closed. It doesn’t matter to him that the teachers are the vehicles that express the profound discontent of Chiapas society (, nor does savagely repressing the rural teachers college students of Mactumactzá ( matter.

It’s still an irony that the 4T wants to impel its project of transformation with the support of a political class so close to the most rancid local oligarchy.

Notwithstanding the importance that it has for the government, Chiapas is, as the EZLN points out, on the brink of civil war ( In the midst of the strife above, the exacerbation of narco-paramilitary violence and the tenacious indigenous, campesino and teacher resistance against the dispossession and for autonomy, the hour of hell is announced in the southeast, so feared by all. Whoever doubts it, let them take a look at the experience of the El Machete indigenous self-defense group of the inhabitants of Pantelhó.

[1] Obradorism refers to the policies and projects of Mexico’s current president: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also referred to as AMLO.

[2] The official name of the Green Party in Mexico is the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, also known as the PVEM, its initials in Spanish.

[3] The IMSS is the Mexican Institute of Social Security (Spanish: Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS). It is a federal governmental organization that assists public health, pensions and social security in Mexico. It operates under the Secretariat of Health and forms an integral part of the Mexican health c are system


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, September 21, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

One Comment on “The Chiapas hell

  1. Pingback: War and chaos above; resistance and dignity below – Πόλεμος και χάος επάνω. αντίσταση και αξιοπρέπεια κάτω – Αέναη κίνηση-moto Perpetuo

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