Municipal president of Pantelhó accuses “Los Machetes” of disappearing people, then he’s arrested for the same thing

Members of the El Machete Self-Defense Group, referred to as “Los Machetes”

By: Isaín Mandujano

The council president of Pantelhó, Pedro Cortés López, was arrested this afternoon by agents from the State’s Attorney General for the crime of the forced disappearance of 19 people, the crime from which he had disassociated himself this morning and pointed to the El Machete self-defense group, who he accused of different crimes, such as looting the municipal treasury through public works contracts in an arbitrary and discretionary way.

In the morning, Pedro Cortés López, until now the municipal president of Pantelhó disassociated the armed group El Machete, which irrupted on July 7, 2021 in that municipality to expel the “Los Herreras Cartel,” which looted the municipal council for years, and committed, he said, various crimes like murders and forced disappearances, “but the government never intervenes to investigate and never opened investigation notebooks.”

In his public denunciation, he pointed out public servants who were not loyal and honest in the management of public resources and assigned public works contracts to construction companies linked to commanders of the El Machete group to obtain resources from the municipal treasury.

He commented that commanders Juan Méndez Gómez, Daniel López Méndez, Javier Méndez Velasco and Reynaldo Ruiz, as well as another person named José Rodrigo Velasco Álvarez of having benefitted with public works for more than 47 million pesos. He denounced the same situation to the High Auditor of the State of Chiapas.

Javier Méndez Velasco, Daniel López Méndez, Reynaldo Pérez Ruiz and Juan Méndez Gómez, all Machete commanders, obliged us to assign them work. Concerned about the use of the municipal council’s resources and, in order to know the results and control of public revenues and expenses, we decided to visit the State’s High Auditor and we found out that the then treasurer, Juan Méndez Gómez, had not delivered the public account. When the then treasurer and accountant of the municipality were asked about why they had not delivered the municipal council’s public account, Pedro Gómez Gómez responded that as an indigenous people we were not obliged to render accounts, Cortés said.

Regarding the disappearance of 21 people that began on July 26, 2021, at the hands of The Machetes, Cortés López pointed out that all of them were violently taken from their homes, which were burned and “in the presence of all of us the 21 were taken the Central Park Kiosk and after holding them there for several hours in the presence of all the people, the “Machete” commanders Daniel López Mendez, Javier Méndez Velasco, Juan Méndez Gómez (former treasurer), Reynaldo Pérez Ruiz, Juan Ricardo Luna López, Abraham Gonzales Gutiérrez and Yoni Hernández decided take them to the San José Tercero community aboard various trucks.”

Pedro Cortés López, former municipal president (mayor) of Pantelhó Municipality.

He said that he is not due to Los Machetes, but rather to the assembly of residents of the 86 communities and 18 neighborhoods that make up Pantelhó municipality, as well as the religious organizations that proposed him to coordinate a commission of 20 people who would represent the voice of the town.

We are the proposal of the town, not of the “Machetes;” that’s why in this act we disavow any responsibility for acts carried out by this armed group against the 21 people who remain disappeared. We are willing to testify before the corresponding bodies as to what we saw when they took them to San José Tercero, Cortés López said in the morning.

However, in the afternoon, the Office of the State’s Attorney General (FGE) through the Office of the Prosecutor Against the Forced Disappearance of Persons and Committed by Private Parties, reported that it executed an arrest warrant against Pedro «N» and Diego «N» as probable participants in the acts that could constitute the crime of Disappearance Committed by Private Parties, events that occurred in the municipality of Pantelhó.

In an official letter they pointed out that members of the Specialized Police, attached to the Office of the Prosecutor Against the Forced Disappearance of Persons and Committed by Private Parties the FGE’s Tactical Group complied with the arrest warrant issued by the  Control Judge of the Control Courts and Tribunals of Prosecution for Region Two, of the Judicial Districts of San Cristóbal and Bochil, against the aforementioned defendants for their probable responsibility in the crime of Disappearance Committed by a Private Party, committed to the detriment of 19 people belonging to Pantelhó Municipality.

On the afternoon of July 26, 2021, those accused today, together with the group called “Los Machetes” peoples’ self-defense group, deprived the 19 victims of their freedom in the central park kiosk in Pantelhó Municipality, being the last time that those people were seen alive, since as of now their whereabouts are unknown.

Those accused were put at the disposition of the control courts located in El Amate [Prison]; where their legal situation will be resolved in the next few hours.

Although originally the group that EL Machete disappeared was said to be 21 people, they say that three people were released but 19 remain in the hands of that armed group, which irrupted on July 7, 2021 to expel another illegal armed group that had operated for more that 12 years in that municipality.

The Pantelhó municipal council holds a banner alleging that they were all forced at gunpoint to sign resignations.

Update

The Pantelhó Municipal Council was forced out and the State Congress named a new municipal council.

==Ω==

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, June 21, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/2022/06/concejal-de-pantelho-acusa-a-los-machetes-de-la-desaparicion-de-personas-luego-la-fiscalia-lo-detiene-por-ese-delito/ and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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