San Cristóbal, under police and military siege

Members of the Mexican Army at a checkpoint on the northern peripheral.

By: Isaín Mandujano

After the violent events on Monday that left three people riddled with bullets and three houses burned, the municipal and state police forces, as well as the Mexican Army and the National Guard (NG) took control of the northern peripheral where armed groups were mobilized yesterday, which caused panic with the detonations of their firearms.

After the execution of indigenous leader Jerónimo Ruiz, various armed groups mobilized in the northern area of the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, firing their firearms and headed towards the El Pinar neighborhood, where they burned at least three houses, one of them belonging to the activist and human rights defender Pascuala López.

Jerónimo Ruiz was murdered in one of the streets of the Nueva Esperanza district, in front of the house of a friend he had gone to visit. He actually lived in the Buena Esperanza neighborhood, a neighboring district.

Supporters of Jerónimo Ruiz took over the main road, which is the Northern Peripheral and blocked it with sticks and stones, burned tires and killed at least two people allegedly from the El Pinar neighborhood.

Aerial view of a police and military operation.

There are two important leaders of a motorcycle gang from El Pinar, who were arrested and taken prisoner recently, Pablo “N” and Cecilio “N”, who were adversaries of Jerónimo Ruiz.

In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, “Motonetos” is the generic name for various gangs that were created in this city in 2015, during the municipal government of Marco Cancino, a politician of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM).

Los Jerónimos, was one of the groups of young people led by Jerónimo Ruiz, who gave security and protection more than his person to his businesses, plazas and markets where he maintained a political leadership among vendors, merchants, artisans and other street vendors of that city.

More than 24 hours after the violent events, state and municipal police, the National Guard and the Mexican Army set up checkpoints in various parts of the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Mainly in the Northern Peripheral, where today there were only bullet holes in several houses, shell casings on the ground and evidence of burned tires in several sections.

On that peripheral there are about 50 districts, most of them inhabited by people of the Tsotsil Maya people of the Chiapas Highlands, many who arrived in the 1980s displaced by conflicts derived from religious intolerance and others displaced after the armed uprising of the EZLN in 1994.

Vehicle searches.

In an interview, the mayor of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, said that he hopes that with Pablo “N” and Cecilio “N” from El Pinar prisoners and Jerónimo Ruiz murdered, it brings peace and tranquility to the municipality.

He recognizes that in the public markets and other places with indigenous merchants, other illicit businesses operate, but that is now the work of the State’s Attorney General (FGE) and the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR), whose work takes place outside the scope of the municipal government and its police forces.

That’s why Díaz Ochoa today asked the FGR and the FGE to intervene, so that they are the ones who investigate what happens in that part of the northern zone and the markets and squares because “there could be many surprises.”

He pointed out that the situation will return to calm and that tourism in that city will be reactivated again.

Motorcycle searches.

Alba María Guadalupe Moguel, a hotel entrepreneur, points out that this wave of violence has already brought a crisis in this sector, and that tourists and travel agencies have begun to cancel their visits to this city.

She points out that the policy of “hugs, not bullets” of the federal and local governments, has not yielded positive results and that on the contrary they have allowed crime to grow and leave those who generate jobs and development in Chiapas helpless.”

Eduardo Villatoro Ramos, a businessman and leader of the National Chamber of Commerce in San Cristobal de Las Casas, points out that the situation is critical for business people in this city.

Villatoro questions that security has been a debt of the state and municipal governments for many years to the citizens of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

He says that for many years there have been no conditions for companies to carry out their activities with all the guarantees of security.

He explains that gangs have challenged and overtaken local authorities, so the intervention of the Federation is urgent.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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