Altamirano, Chiapas: Mass kidnappings of opponents of the political machine

20220326_102457 2The 10 drivers released on March 22 provided this photo of themselves to El Heraldo.

By: Isaín Mandujano

In the municipality of Altamirano a paramilitary group linked to the Pinto Kanter family, the PVEM and the Alliance of Social Organizations and Left Unions (ASSI) is massively kidnapping those who oppose the return of that political nucleus to the power it held for 12 years. Given this, the government of Rutilio Escandón has arranged for the release of some victims [on March 22, the government announced the release of 10 more truck drivers] and the state’s attorney general has opened investigative files, but has not reported the results.

ALTAMIRANO, Chiapas (proceso)

Kidnapped by a paramilitary group, 37 indigenous Tojolabals have suffered being deprived of their freedom for almost three months, as a result of the remnants of a political machine that for 12 years has maintained control of people who finally rebelled, in this region of influence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional).

In recent months, several mass kidnappings have kept Altamirano residents in suspense, immersed in a political conflict and victims of shock groups and armed civilians who, they accuse, are linked to or at the service of politicians who try to perpetuate themselves as local authorities.

In the march on Sunday, March 13, organized by the EZLN in six Chiapas municipal seats, the one in Altamirano was unique, because the contingent of masked rebel men and women were joined by thousands of non-Zapatistas from the neighborhoods and districts, who denounced the crisis that they have experienced since August 14, 2021.

Armando Pinto Kanter, Amilkar Pinto Kanter, Roberto Pinto Kanter, their wives, their brothers-in-law, a cousin or relative of theirs, have served as municipal presidents since the ‘90s until 2021, when they were expelled from Altamirano.

The townspeople rose up against that, says ejido commissioner René Santiz Espinosa, one of the victims of a first mass kidnapping last August. Santiz maintains that they will not give in to pressure from armed civilian groups that seek to oblige the current municipal council to resign.

The rebellion against the town’s political bosses (the Pinto Kanter family) has led to this population living entrenched. Trucks with chains and men with radios in hand are at all of the town’s accesses as a control filter to avoid the entry of an armed group tied, they say, to those who previously held municipal political power in Altamirano.

PHOTO-2022-03-13-10-52-41In the EZLN’s March 13 action against capitalist wars, Altamirano residents hold a banner demanding the release of those kidnapped.

In the Zapatista march on Sunday, the 13th, ejido residents and their ejido authorities endorsed the rebels’ demands. At the end of the march, residents of the town exposed in a meeting what they experienced for more than 12 years and the fact that they now suffer the kidnapping of members of their movement.

The ejido commissioner of Altamirano, Santiz Espinosa, was one of the first ones kidnapped on August 14, 2021. His kidnapping, as well as that of their other ejido compañeros unleashed the town’s ire. They released him in the first days of September [2021].

Now free and at the head of the citizen social movement, Santiz says that they were tortured and they held them several days without food, which is why he worries what the 37 indigenous members of the civil resistance called the August 14 Altamirano Citizens Movement who remain captives may now be suffering.

The armed group that keeps the indigenous people kidnapped demands 10 million pesos to release them and the resignation of the independent municipal council.

This is an excerpt from the report [about political kidnapping in various parts of Mexico] published in edition 2369 of the weekly Proceso [magazine] whose digital version you can purchase here.


Originally Published in Spanish by, Friday, April 1, 2022,

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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