Lacandón comuneros accuse Julia Carabias of seeking to divide and confront them

Lacandóns denounce that they try to divide and confront them through agrarian litigation plagued with irregularities.

By: Isaín Mandujano

Authorities of the Lacandón Zone’s Communal Assets (LZCA), [also known as the Lacandón Zone Commons], denounced that with legal devices and influence peddling, the environmentalist Julia Carabias Lillo, through her civil organizations, Natura and Mexican Ecosystems, intends to divide the indigenous community members of the Jungle to strip them of control of the territory.

Chankin Kimbor Chambor, president of the LZCA and dozens of community members from Lacanjá Chanzayab, Frontera Corozal, Nueva Palestina and other communities that make up the Commons, traveled for several hours from the Jungle to reach the state capital and protest before the Unitary Agrarian Tribunal of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, which intends to favor a minority group “manipulated by foreign interests.”

The indigenous Choles, Tseltals, Tsotsiles and Lacandón Mayas, members of the Communal Assets of the Lacandón Zone, located in the municipality of Ocosingo, said that for more than 50 years they have been subject to “multiple deceptions, betrayals, manipulations and threats by neoliberal governments” and that now they suffer the same from the current state government that claims to have emerged from the 4T.

Demands of the Lacandón Zone community members.

“We demand that the Unitary Agrarian Court District 3, based in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, does not lend itself to violating our human rights, in the case it attends to within File 215/2022, in the sense of leaning towards a minority group (of Lacandóns) that is being manipulated by non-governmental organizations such as Natura and Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C., belonging to the neoliberal Julia Carabias Lillo, through her defense attorney Roger Eli Diaz Guillen,” Chankin Kimbor Chambor said.

The indigenous leader recalled that the communal members of the Lacandón Zone, in 1971, by presidential decree were recognized and given title to more than 600,000 hectares (more than a million and a half acres) of land, [1] without being provided with the plan of said territory that frames its limits.

Subsequently, presidential decrees were issued to provide land to ejidos and areas were granted for natural reserves, which caused the original territory that was recognized and titled in 1971 to be reduced to a little more than 400,000 hectares.

Chankin Kimbor Chambor, president of the Communal Assets Commission.

And with this, they lost “a large amount of territory, and they still do not have a definitive plan.

“What’s the reason? Why is the federal government refusing to hand over the final blueprint? The answer is simple; so that non-governmental organizations such as Natura and Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. get an increased source of business, using a group of Lacandón Maya comrades for their benefit,” said Chankin Kimbor Chambor.

They asked the Unitary Agrarian Court to be impartial in the dictation of the sentence issued in the agrarian file 215/2022 and that the issuance be prompt and expeditious in favor of peace, unity and progress of the native peoples.

He also demanded on behalf of all the comuneros and communities within the Communal Assets that there is “absolute respect for the demarcation and measurement of the communal territory that was executed by SEDATU, the Agrarian Attorney and the National Agrarian Registry. He also demanded the delivery of the final plan of the communal property and that the Lacandóns who intend to divide them not be manipulated.

He also demanded that the civil organizations Natura and Mexican Ecosystems, as well as the environmentalist Julia Carabias, who currently owns 80 hectares in the region of Chajul and Tzendales, leave the Lacandón Jungle.

[1] Translator’s Note: What was created by presidential decree in 1971 was then called the Lacandón Community, a grant of an enormous area of land in the Lacandón Jungle to 66 families of a Maya ethnicity currently known as Lacandón. The land was designated as communally owned. After strong protests, some Tseltal and Chol Mayas who lived within its boundaries were relocated to Nueva Palestina and Frontera Corozal (towns within the Lacandón Community); other Tseltals and Chols resisted relocation. The Lacandón ethnicity was given more rights than the other ethnicities and that structure has made the Lacandón Community, sometimes referred to as the Lacandón Zone, ripe for division due to different interests.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Thursday, April 20, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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