Ejido Candelaria reiterates its demand for the right to self-determination and autonomy

Ejido Candelaria authorities address the crowd.

BY: Yessica Morales

Communities from the municipalities of Salto de Agua, Palenque, Yajalón, Sitalá, Chilón, Altamirano, Ocosingo, Oxchuc, Tenejapa, Cancúc, Huixtán, Chicomuselo and the Candelaria Ejido of San Cristóbal de Las Casas municipality have demanded respect for their forms of self-government from the Mexican State, under cover of the Movement in Defense of Life andTerritory (Modevite).

The Tsotsil community of the Ejido Candelaria belonging to San Cristóbal de Las Casas municipality, in collaboration with academic institutions [1], held a press conference last August 12, to communicate the consensus agreement to carry out political and legal actions for the recognition of their community government, as an exercise of the right to self-determination and autonomy.

The foregoing, before the authorities of all levels and government bodies, therefore the authorities present at the event [2] had the task of publicizing and disseminating what they have requested from the Municipal Council of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the State Congress of Chiapas.

First, they indicated that the Ejido Candelaria is a Tsotsil community, it has its own community system, for that reason they decided to follow the example of communities in the state of Michoacán, who claim the right to indigenous self-government.

In that sense, they claimed from the Municipal Council the right to administer the proportional part of the budget that corresponds to the Ejido. Likewise, they demanded that the State Congress recognize their community government as indigenous peoples.

In 2014, Ejido Candelaria denounced the threats, harassment and pressure it received for opposing the San Cristóbal-Palenque Superhighway.

Thus, they demanded respect for their rights as established in Article 2 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

They declare that States must recognize and guarantee the self-determination, autonomy and self-government of indigenous peoples and communities, and allow them to preserve their institutions and customs, as well as respect for and recognition of their own normative systems in order to freely determine their political status, means of subsistence and development of forms of social, economic and cultural organization, added the community authorities.

Of equal importance, they pointed out that on January 4, 2022 the Ejido presented the formal request to the State Congress to recognize and guarantee the rights to self-determination, autonomy and self-government. They also submitted the request to the Municipal Council of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, to transfer the proportional part of the public resources that corresponds to them, and that the community government administer them.

However, they denounced publicly that both requestswere denied, despite have full support in the laws of the country and international conventions. Given this, they decided to go to the Federal Judiciary to request an amparo in the recognition of their rights.

We demand that the competent authorities respond to our requests, fully respecting the rights that correspond to us as indigenous peoples. La Candelaria Ejido has the legal backing of the constitutional reform of 2001 and international treaties such as ILO Convention 169, which oblige states to recognize and guarantee the self-determination, autonomy and self-government of indigenous peoples and communities,” the authorities said.

A sign on the road leading to Ejido Candelaria announcing its opposition to the Superhighway.

Consequently, they invited the communities of indigenous peoples to get organized to constitute their own self-government bodies,because community organization is an expression of another democracy. 

In addition, they affirmed that if the federal, state and municipal authorities are not able to respond to their needs, it is their right to embark on the path of life, solidarity, peace and respect, for the beings who inhabit Mother Earth, where the men and women who fought before also live.

For her part, Juana Hernández Díaz, representative spokesperson for the women, said that the community has approximately 4 thousand inhabitants. An organized community, with authorities such as: ejido commissioner, surveillance council, rural agent, rural judge, education committee, health committee, water board, road board, celebration board and their members.

We come to demand our rights as indigenous peoples, as the law states. Article 2, which recognizes and guarantees the right of indigenous peoples and communities to self-determination, states that the Mexican nation is unique and indivisible, establishes that the nation has a multicultural composition originally based on its indigenous peoples, the spokeswoman said.

Hernández Díaz emphasized that the community is forgotten by the municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. In other words, the community depends only on its people; if the streets have pot holes it’s the people and the community authorities who fix them, taking money from their own pockets, and that isn’t fair.

Because as an indigenous community, we have rights that the budgets give us to fix what our community needs, that’s why we have come to ask that our rights as indigenous peoples be respected, taking into account the needs of our community. We want the budget for our community handed over to us and not through intermediaries, the spokeswoman indicated.

[1] Academic institutions:

Observatorio de las Democracias: sur de México y Centroamérica del Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica – Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas (CESMECA-UNICACH).
Universidad Iberoamericana a través de la Clínica Jurídica Minerva Calderón.Observatorio de Participación Social y Calidad Democrática.

[2] Principal Authorities of the Candelaria Ejido:

Juan Gómez Díaz, comisariado ejidal de la comunidad
Agustín Díaz Ruiz, secretario del Consejo de Vigilancia
Salvador Díaz Pérez, juez rural municipal
Manuel Hernández Gómez, presidente del Consejo de Vigilancia
Fernando Gómez López, agente rural municipal

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Sunday, August 14, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2022/08/ejido-candelaria-reitera-exigencia-por-el-derecho-a-la-libre-determinacion-y-autonomia/ and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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