Aldama and Chenalhó sign second conciliatory agreement

Federal, state and municipal officials who worked on reaching the agreement. Photo: Chiapas General Secretariat of Government

The conflict now has two conciliatory agreements between the parties. Nevertheless, the situation in the region has not been noticeably different. 

By: Yessica Morales

On June 14, 2022, the three levels of government and authorities from the municipalities of Chenalhó and Aldama signed a conciliatory convention to reach a definitive solution to the agrarian conflict that originated more than 40 years ago and thereby achieve pacification among both localities.

The relationship between Aldama and Santa Marta was not conflictive in the past. Because they share a neighborhood and for several years, there were marriages between members of both towns. In addition, the patron saint fiestas were a reason for mutual visits.

It’s important to remember that the town of Santa María Magdalena, which changed from the name Aldama after its re-municipalization in 1999, together with Santa Marta, Santiago El Pinar and San Andrés Larrainzar, share a micro coffee growing region.

These towns have been united in history, since times before the Colonial Era. During the 18th century, their communal territories were privatized by Ladino ranching families, leaving their population subjected to peonage relationships.

In 1974, they decided to carry out joint actions and massively recuperate their territories, thus expelling the Ladino ranchers. In those years, topographers in the Agrarian Reform Secretariat (SRA) who made up the “Chiapas Brigade,” carried out technical work to resolve agrarian problems in the region.

After the expulsion, the strategy the SRA used for the confirmation and titling of the commons was the recognition of acts of dominion, without a forceful value to the documents. Where the Secretariat recognized the Communal Assets of the peoples, but the strategy to which it resorted left agrarian conflicts.

Santa Marta obtained recognition and titling of communal assets in August 1975, with the official name of “Manuel Utrilla.” However, the limits that the SRA marked off were challenged by Santa María Magdalena, which alleged that a part of their ancestral territories had been granted to Santa Marta, sowing a conflict that has cost more than a dozen lives.

The SRA attempted to resolve the error with acts of conformity agreements, but with the passage of years these were ignored. In 2000, through the Program of Certification of Ejido Rights and Titling of Urban Plots (PROCEDE), Santa Marta achieved obtaining its definitive plan, keeping the disputed lands inside its territory, of which twenty hectares are planted with coffee.

Aldama builds a barricade against shooting from Santa Martha.

Federal and state officials witnessed the agreement event, in which Victoria Cecilia Flores Pérez, Secretary General of Government, recognized the work of institutions that have labored for peace and reconciliation, and a dignified life in the indigenous towns of Chiapas.

It’s time to celebrate and to re-commit ourselves, because this work is forever and those of us who are authorities have the obligation to be pending day by day, so that peace continues to be built and seeing these results, said Flores Pérez, after the signing of the document with which legal certainty will be given to possession of the land and will allow resolving the controversy generated by the dispute of 59.5 hectares.

Likewise, Angelina Díaz Méndez, municipal president of Aldama; Alonso Pérez Sántiz, uses and customs president of Aldama; and Abraham Cruz Gómez, mayor of Chenalhó, thanked the General Government Secretariat for support to advance in resolving this controversy.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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