By: Elio Henriquez
San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas
The El Machete Self-Defense Forces of the People, an armed group, stated that it does not know the whereabouts of 21 residents detained 6 months ago in the municipal seat of Pantelhó, with the argument that they had ties to hit men (sicarios), a spokesperson for the group said.
According to their relatives, members of El Machete detained 21 inhabitants last July 26 and exhibited them in the central park of Pantelhó, and then took them to San José Tercero, the alleged bastion of the armed group.
But El Machete’s commander, who did not provide his name, said: “I can’t lie about where they are. The Search Commission is coming and who knows where they’re going to look for them. We don’t know where those 21 are. I can’t say anything until the Search Commission comes.”
He also reported that his compañeros arrested three residents on Wednesday who allegedly sold drugs in the municipal seat. “We put them in the can for one night, but today they are already going to the prosecutor’s office,” which “doesn’t do its job; that’s why we impose our own law. The government doesn’t watch over us.
“There are already several cantinas without authorization, but they sell drugs. We heard that months ago and yesterday (Wednesday) we clearly heard that there is a person in Pantelhó (who has) some 30 kilograms of cocaine and weapons.”
“We give the death sentence”
The spokesperson pointed out that: “if the prosecutor’s office doesn’t pay attention to us, I told them that I don’t know what is going to happen next because we give the death sentence. That is what happened yesterday, but we will only go where the bars are, where there are drugs; we entered a (cantina) and it came out positive: we found drugs, grams of crystal (meth) and images of Santa Muerte like the ones Los Herrera use, besides three or four ounces of cocaine.”
He maintained that El Machete members “don’t want rapists, murderers and drug traffickers, we want all of them to leave town. We don’t bother people. What they say, that an armed group entered again, is a lie, but we did not do anything violent yesterday; we went to see where there is evidence that they’re selling drugs.”
In addition to the 21 Pantelhó residents detained six months ago by El Machete, a group of sympathizers of the former mayor and cacique (political and economic boss), Roberto Pinto Kánter, has kidnapped [and held hostage] 27 indigenous people in Altamirano since last December 29.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, January 28, 2022
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee