The city taken, hours of terror in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Image taken by customers who took shelter inside a Walmart department store.

By: Chiapas Paralelo

For almost five hours they fired shots, burned vehicles, blocked streets, took control of part of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and, until the rain began, or they got fed up, they left without any authority showing up in the affected area. One hundred armed men sowed terror in the city.

The population of the place took refuge in hotels, shops, businesses, schools, in their homes; They desperately called the emergency numbers for help, because students were trapped inside schools.

“A group of people, girls, adults and men are sheltering in the Villa Vanesa hotel, whom I thank enormously for letting us in. We have been here since approximately 1:40 pm, and at no time have we seen the National Guard, the militia, and the municipal police have stood out for their absence. This is the place that the municipal president boasts so much about. It is now 3:23 p.m. and the detonations continue, some already very close, please do not leave home,” a resident of San Cristóbal explained on Facebook; showing a photograph of people covering themselves on the ground floor.

They were joined by young people on motorcycles [known locally as “motonetos” or “scooters ”], with their faces uncovered, known for their youth and the impunity with which, on a daily basis, they walk the streets shooting, as if playing a game.

Armed “scooters” fire off shots in San Cristóbal.

They parked some of their vehicles — white pickup trucks, tinted windows — in the parking lot of a Walmart store. Inside the place, the people at that time of day were shopping, they threw themselves on the floor, covered themselves with the shelves, and stayed there for hours.

This place was their second stop, the first being the North Market, where they also shot, more to persuade than to kill. At the moment there are no official reports that anyone has died, but on Facebook the image of a young man was shared who, they say, died from a stray bullet when he was inside the market.

They made a sign: “CORUTO, OUT administrator CHABEZ PIXOL”, along with a phallic symbol. “Pixol”, is penis in Tsotsil, was the offense for whoever now has the administration of that sales center, which has five large warehouses for the food and flower trade.

The dispute over the markets in San Cristóbal de Las Casas is not new. What is new, residents say, is the variety of illegal products that are now being sold. In the streets near the North Market there are also plenty of places to sell stolen cars that are offered without any shame; also drugs, weapons, clandestinely cut wood. Migrant smuggling is another business that has proliferated in the region.

It is an area of streets with impoverished neighborhoods and people in the same circumstances, founded by indigenous people who came to the city decades ago, looking for opportunities and work. Now bulletproof vans circulate, brothels abound almost on a par with churches and schools.

More than four hours of terror were experienced in that area of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. “Go arrest them, go arrest them, I need to go get my son,” a father shouted at policemen who were standing before the shooting zone, trying to divert traffic.

“It started to rain, we are seeing if we can go out now,” a young woman messaged her boyfriend, later telling him that the shots were heard again, now almost at the door of the university study center where they were.

The armed men left as they arrived, amid impunity. At almost five in the afternoon, soldiers and police began to arrive at the scene, covered in raincoats to protect themselves from the rain. They fanned out through the streets and found nothing.

Armed gunmen in the San Cristóbal municipal market. Photo: courtesy of Schools for Chiapas.

In a statement, the Chiapas Secretary of Public Security reported: members of the inter-institutional group made up of Sedena, National Guard, Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection and Municipal Police carry out surveillance patrols and presence in the area, as well as in the streets and avenues of the city, with the aim of safeguarding the integrity and heritage of citizens and visitors.

It adds that “after the events that occurred this Tuesday, allegedly derived from a social conflict in the Popular Market in the North of this city (…) experts and agents from the Public Ministry also arrived at the scene for the purpose of initiating the corresponding investigations and defining responsibilities, under the premise that no criminal conduct goes unpunished.”

And it ends with the phrase: the Government of Chiapas endorses its firm commitment to Chiapas to strengthen the rule of law and guarantee security throughout state territory, urging social organizations to conduct themselves legally and peacefully to find solutions to your demands.

The mountain city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Municipal police surpassed, the mayor recognizes

The municipal president of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mariano Díaz Ochoa, acknowledged today that their [police] bodies are overtaken by these armed civilian groups that broke into the northern part of the city today, so he asked the state and federal authorities to intervene, to investigate and arrest those responsible: “they surpass us in number and weapons.”

In an official letter, the mayor said that from the first moment the violent events began on Tuesday morning, he notified the state authorities, both the General Ministry of Government, Victoria Cecilia Flores, former mayor of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and the Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection, to intervene and safeguard the integrity of the population trapped in the conflict zone.

He said that the municipal police under his command are preventive in nature, so their members do not have the fire power or the sufficient number to face the criminals who came out with AK-47s and other types of long and short weapons to dispute control of the popular market in the north of that city.

The mayor added that these groups “are heavily armed” and that they “surpass” the municipal police forces, so he asked for the intervention of the National Guard and the Mexican Army.


 Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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