Chiapas activists lament the increased presence of organized crime

3rd Assembly of the Women’s Movement in Defense of Mother Earth and Our Territories was held in the municipality of Tonalá, Chiapas. Photo: La Jornada,

By: Elio Henríquez, correspondent

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Women’s Movement in Defense of Mother Earth and Our Territories expressed its concern about “the increase in organized crime, the sale and consumption of chemical drugs, the circulation of weapons in safe houses and the calls for extortion and kidnapping of young people,” as well as the imposition of megaprojects that destroy Mother Earth.

“A constant that we women look at and experience in the countryside and the city is that the increase of organized crime in our regions does not stop. They seek that in our paths of life there is no tranquility or joy, they want us locked up,” it said in a statement.

“We see in all regions the increase of bars, the distribution, sale and consumption of drugs and alcoholism that puts the lives of young people at risk; The dynamics of crime lead to losing them and losing their lives,” it added.

It pointed out that “the increase in drug addiction is linked to the increase in the presence of organized crime and the problem is increasingly advancing towards the communities.”

The more than one hundred women from different regions of Chiapas, who on this occasion were joined by representatives of the Zapotec people of Oaxaca, Mexico City and southern Argentina, participated in their third assembly, which took place in the municipality of Tonalá, located in the state’s coastal region.

The meeting began with a ceremony “to honor our ancestors, the seven directions and to ask permission from the sea” and then they shared “the contexts we are experiencing as women.” Next, they carried out “collective healing activities, as well as communication workshops, political-community organization, solidarity economy and products for personal and collective self-care.”

In the statement released at the end of the assembly, they pointed out that “now there are more of us who are convinced of the organization, autonomies and defense of Mother Earth and our territories. We have agreed to do it from listening, looking at each other and recognizing each other, with respect, joy and affection.”

They reaffirmed their willingness to follow their principles from political-organizational autonomy, “the defense of Mother Earth against projects of death,” awareness in personal care and collective healing, the participation of women in decision-making, the rejection of all types of violence against them, the articulation and political solidarity among peoples,  networks and collectives of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle.

Chichonal volcano erupts in 1982.

The women from the coastal region assured that they continue “in defense of Mother Earth due to the imposition of concessions for up to 50 years in mining and hydroelectric plants,” while those from the northern zone denounced “the abandonment of the roads of Francisco León, Chapultenango, and Viejo Nicapa, Pichucalco, which are evacuation routes in case of an emergency in the Chichonal Volcano, which has become more active in recent years. It is about to be 41 years since that tragic 1982 when more than two thousand people died and the roads are still abandoned. The volcano is not only for tourism, it is home to thousands of families who have lived there for more than three thousand 500 years.”

In the northern-Palenque region, the women said, “government people enter to cut down trees for the construction of the so-called Maya Train. We are the ones who defend, we do not let them knock down more trees, we are defending the river, the water and the land because there we plant corn and beans.”

The attendees from Los Altos who participated in the meeting, said that “in some communities the agreement has been reached that the military will not enter. There is fear because of what we see and hear about organized crime. Women cannot go out alone, we are afraid that something will happen to us.”

They added: “As women we are experiencing different types of violence generated by organized crime, groups of young people who are dedicated to transport, sale, assaults, kidnappings and disappearances, creating a sense of daily terror, where there is fear and uncertainty. In the main markets of the city of San Cristóbal, the sale of drugs and weapons is becoming a constant, as well as the promotion, sale and networks of pornography and child prostitution.”

In the case of the women from Oaxaca who attended, they denounced that in that territory “the megaprojects of dispossession of the interoceanic corridor and the wind farms are present,” while those from Mexico City and Argentina denounced “the persistent rape and sexual abuse to which we continue exposed as women.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, February 15, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: