Above Photo: Cuartoscuro | In a file image, families are given refuge in a carpentry workshop in Chivit community last June 18.
By: Elio Henríquez
San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas
Residents of Aldama municipality affirmed that in October members of the “armed paramilitary group of Santa Martha, Chenalhó” committed at least “203 attacks against the communities of Xuxch’en, Coco’, Tabac, San Pedro Cotzilnam, Yeton, Chivit, Stzelejpotobtik, Juxton and the municipal seat,” due to a dispute over 60 hectares.
In a communiqué signed by “The voice of the people of Magdalena Aldama,” governed by the Green Ecology Party of Mexico (PVEM, Partido Verde Ecologista de México), accused: “There have been direct attacks on homes; there are houses with lead, broken sheet metal roofs, cars and machines with bullet holes; workers that rehabilitate the road, masons who build houses, contractors, engineers and police who make tours have been attacked.”
They pointed out that: “the 60 hectares have belonged to the people of Magdalena Aldama ancestrally. Seven families lived there who in 2016 were dispossessed and threatened with firearms and took refuge in different Aldama villages. The armed paramilitary group that operates in Chenalhó was activated that year.”
They stated: “We are 115 comuneros affected, dispossessed, threatened and displaced from our homes, from our lands, which our grandparents and parents have left us, which is certified by the Unitary Agrarian Court, which recognizes us as the legitimate owners.
“The government has ignored our complaints and just threatens to put our representatives in jail. We are already tired of so many threats and we have not seen that it acts; it has just treated us as its puppet.”
They recalled that in 2018 “the attacks with high-caliber weapons intensified, because of which 2,036 people displaced towards the mountains” and on March 14, 2020 “our compañero Cristóbal Santiz Jiménez was arrested and secluded in the El Amate prison, in Cintalapa municipality.”
They pointed out that: “the reason for his arrest was that one of the representatives of the 115 community members affected and displaced from the 60 hectares by residents of Santa Martha, Cristóbal Santiz, is one of the hostages of the government of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and Ismael Brito Mazariegos (former Secretary of Government and current federal deputy), as well as of the state attorney general’s office,” which Jorge Luis Llaven Abarca then headed. Now, he’s a federal legislator.
“Since 2020, the armed attacks have been increasing in intensity, affecting 12 communities and 5,000 people. Today, we once again express our feelings. As people of de Magdalena Aldama, we publicly denounce the threats and attacks that we receive from the paramilitary groups in Santa Martha.”
They added that: “as a result of the daily armed attacks on our communities of Tabac and Coco’, workers from the construction company that rehabilitates two kilometers of road abandoned the work because of unsafe conditions.”
They mentioned that the job “should have already been finished, but there has been no progress, rather it’s in worse condition, which affects the 12 villages, since in harvest season they cannot move the farm trucks.”
Besides, “several vehicles have been trapped after the destruction of the Tabac Bridge, so the lives of our brothers are at risk, just like on that two-kilometer stretch of road.
They remarked that they just want “to live in tranquility and peace to be able to work our lands;” that’s why they demanded that the agreed schedule of the police force’s tours be observed, from 9 am to 4 pm, since “members of the police only come to collect signatures from the agents and they don’t comply with the schedule.”
They insisted that an immediate solution be given to the conflict over the 60 hectares, since “we already showed our will with the distribution of our lands, but there has been no progress, because the three levels of government just manipulated the information and administered the conflict.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee