Chiapas Support Committee

Narco-governments and organized crime add to the repression in Chiapas


Above: Presentation of the El Machete Self-Defense group, in Pantelhó, Chiapas, last July – Photo: Image taken from YouTube

This is the second of two articles from Hermann Bellinghausen that gives an overview and analysis of the current situation in Chiapas.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The PRI hegemony, taken for granted for decades in Chiapas, was broken on New Year’s Day of 1994. The reality was much more porous, the complexity of the indigenous peoples turned out to come from deep, having great diversity and being crossed by important historical tensions that, after gaining visibility on the political agenda, became of national interest. Great and terrible days followed one another in the next decade. Chiapas became an essay of the future on two opposite fronts. The organized indigenous people, in rebellion, in resistance, or at least in protest against the government and the state of things were and are very numerous. Against them, the acute militarization, massive by the standards of 25 years ago, established a land of exception in the Mayan Mountains of Chiapas.

The segregation, racism, invisibility and contempt towards indigenous peoples had been the hallmark of the urban population and the property owners, the so-called cashlanes (non-indigenous people). The inequality was abysmal, even after the Revolution and its distant agrarian reform. In the communities people were dying from the flu, diarrhea, hunger, and nobody cared. Many were slaves. Elections came and went, total, the polls were full.

The unexpected indigenous emancipation altered the balance sheets and calculations. Ever since then, the state governments have been nonexistent for practical purposes (with the relative exception of Roberto Albores Guillén, a proactive collaborator with the generals, and Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía, who quickly squandered his democratic credentials). The state went from being “governed” from the center (the federal government in Mexico City) to governing itself, for better or worse. Zapatista discipline and its autonomy in the territories where exercised, are a guaranty of governability, but it has also generated any number of paramilitary-style replicas that evolved into powers unto themselves. The communities and pacifist organizations that inherited the theology of liberation from tatic Samuel Ruiz García receive the same response.

The partisan replay in Chiapas ever since “democracy” arrived in 2000, according to the center, has not been less ruthless against the communities, not by pantomime, which, with the continuous ingredient of the military presence in their territories, was always loaded with counterinsurgent propaganda. No less is the role of the countless Christian denominations that with varying degrees of legitimacy and transparency have created divisions, violence and pretexts in favor of the State.

Long-term war

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) declared war on the federal government, a declaration, by the way, that is still in effect. And the government, especially from 1995 on, responded with long-term war. The initial clashes in January 1994 with the Salinas government responding to the war with war, were small in the face of what was experienced during the administration of Ernesto Zedillo.

Community division was considered strategic and was stimulated where possible: confrontations between Evangelical or Pentecostal Christians and Catholics; red or green parties against yellow or purple ones; the insidious “regularization” of cattle lands recuperated for the native peoples thanks to the insurrection; the emergence of clearly para-militarized groups, aggressive and well armed.

The multitude of layers and folds that such divisiveness unleashed is explained by the great economic, political, logistical, intelligence, manipulation and corruption investment in the indigenous regions of the jungle, the Highlands and the Northern Zone.

These ingredients generated a great disorder that makes it difficult to coexist among brothers in communities, ejidos, municipalities and traditional indigenous regions. All this, naturally sprinkled with the sustained introduction of weapons. Faced with the Zapatista challenge, the government, which, although it said yes, never intended to comply with the rebels demands for the native peoples that had become national, responded with an arms escalation seasoned with alcohol, prostitution and drugs.

Permanent shootings

All this must be considered in order to interpret terrible and absurd acts like the permanent shooting that some 15 Tsotsil communities of Aldama (or Magdalena) suffer. The existence of shock groups, militias, paramilitaries and now sicarios in Chamula, Pantelhó, Chenalhó, Simojovel, Ocosingo, Pueblo Nuevo and Altamirano comes from both the old white guards of the finqueros and from the marginal people and criminals authorized as paramilitaries in the Highlands and the Northern Zone.

The emergence of self-defense groups, in principle on the side of the peoples and against crime, can be the product of the example of Zapatista armed resistance and the effectiveness of their autonomies, and not only of the historical perversities of the local chiefdoms (cacicazgos). That would be the case of El Machete of Pantelhó, and maybe the self-defense groups announced in Simojovel and Altamirano.

It would also seem to weigh the dispute between two candidates for governor from the block for now related to the federal government, which would guaranty the continuity of the Chiapas political farce anchored to it, and it reinforces the tempests that government agencies and institutions, the armed forces and political parties sowed in the past four or five six-year terms. The municipal presidencies in the Highlands (los Altos) make up true narco-governments (Pantelhó, San Cristóbal, Chenalhó). Let’s add to this the expansion in the Chiapas Highlands of criminal organizations dedicated to the trafficking of arms, drugs, pornography and migrants. Let’s not forget that the state has become the gateway for the growing tide of Central American and Haitian families. The border with Guatemala is heavily militarized.

Political groups within indigenous communities have been blocking highways for years, retaining machinery and officials; usually with explicit demands, or because of electoral conflicts that are endemic in Oxchuc and other municipalities.

Now in the communities, they intercept the National Guard (the paramilitaries did it in Santa Martha, Chenalhó; Mitontic residents did it to prevent the National Guard from going into Los Altos), and they also disarm it.

The government’s negotiating commissions come and go in Aldama, Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Altamirano, without containing the violence.

The most serious executions, not the only ones, have been of the special prosecutor for the Pantelhó case, Gregorio Pérez Gómez, last August 8 on the main avenue of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and that of the former president of Las Abejas de Acteal, Simón Pedro Pérez Gómez, on July 5 in the Simojovel market. In both cases they were the objects of an act of sicarios (hit men) on a motorcycle, which has become the new modus operandi. It’s no longer repression, but rather “organized crime.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Social decomposition and overflowing violence hit Chiapas


Above: A self-defense group named El Machete irrupted in Pantelhó last July. Photo: Elio Henríquez Tobar

This is the first of Hermann Bellinghausen’s two-part overview and analysis of the current situation in Chiapas that led Subcomandante Galeano to say that Chiapas is “on the brink of civil war.” Bellinghausen has many years chronicling the Zapatista Uprising and the indigenous movement in Chiapas.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The succession of violent events in indigenous regions of Chiapas leaves the impression that they occur outside of institutional control. Day after day for hours, since many months ago, the Tsotsil families in several communities in the municipality of Aldama receive a rain of large-caliber bullets or are threatened with explosives; there are seven dead, several injured, traumatic displacement, hunger and fear: an isolated scenario, yes (allegedly an agrarian dispute). Each scenario of armed violence seems isolated. The fearsome scooters (motonetos) take over the days and nights of the once peaceful and touristic San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the country’s most indigenous city.

In Pantelhó and Chenalhó, groups that are armed and related to the municipal governments kept the population terrorized until the El Machete armed self-defense group emerged and drove them out, although the paramilitaries and sicarios (hit men), who the people identify as drug traffickers (narcos), threaten to return. Among those murdered is the former president of Las Abejas of Acteal, Simón Pedro Pérez López, whose community is displaced, like others. And among their leaders are members of the PRD and the PVEM.

The ORCAO, once a coffee organization in the most populated zone of Ocosingo, maintains harassment, sabotage, kidnapping, shootings, blockades and thefts of land against the Zapatista bases in autonomous Tseltal communities. On September 11, they kidnapped Sebastián Núñez and José Antonio Sánchez, member of the Patria Nueva autonomous Zapatista government. The violent decomposition affects Chalchihuitán communities attacked from Chenalhó, just like what happens to Aldama. In San Juan Chamula, armed political-criminal groups have controlled the life and commerce for years, and their tentacles reach into San Cristóbal and other municipalities where the population of Chamula has spread.

Meanwhile, the Zapatista National Liberation Army  (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) points out that Chiapas is “on the brink of civil war” in a brief and tremendous communiqué (September 19); it’s evident that the federal civil authorities, their National Guard and the Federal Army itself are permissive, and in fact leave the dozens of attacked communities helpless. The local police are incompetent or complicit. As Subcomandante Galeano suggests upon characterizing the wild-card party, of green Gatopardismo [1], which artificially predominates in the region, courtesy of the PRI, seeks “to destabilize the regime in power.”

He accuses officials of corruption and robbery, “perhaps preparing for a federal government collapse or betting on a change of the part in power.” The EZLN blames the Morena Governor Rutilio Escandón directly for this irresponsible and dangerous lack of control.

Paraphrasing the leitmotif of the great novel by the discredited businessman Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversation in The Cathedral, today more cited than read, has become commonplace: At what moment did Chiapas get screwed? Not that there wasn’t an abundantly fucked up reality in the intense, poor and yet full of riches state in the Mexican Southeast, but rather that the lives of its residents, especially the indigenous people, had not overflowed into decomposition, even despite the massacres at the end of the 20th century, and much less on the side of violent crime, similar to that which has disgraced a good part of Mexican territory in recent six-year terms.

Pueblo trágico

Above photo reads: “Chiapas, tragic town,” which is a play on the “magic town” designation the federal government gives to cities and towns that have tourist attractions, such as archaeological sites, sandy beaches, colonial architecture, etc. The photo is taken in front of the Cathedral in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

Control from the center

The place called Chiapas (as a documentary of the Canadian Netty Wild is titled) has always been a geographical and historical exception. We have a canonical book that recounts it admirably, Resistance and Utopia: A memorial of grievances and a chronicle of revolts and prophecies that occurred in the province of Chiapas during the last 500 years of its history, from Antonio García de León (1985). An obscure corner of the country, Chiapas was always governed from the center [of the country], which is a saying, because it was so far from the news, the independences, reforms, wars and revolutions came late.

Previously the exclusive subject of ethnology, archaeology, folkloric photography and the occasional crime note, starting in 1994 the ink ran on and from Chiapas. Its communities of Maya origin rebelled, achieving international projection with a new and convincing discourse. For the first time in history, “the most forgotten corner” came to occupy the center of the national agenda; to such a degree that the absence of a state government was accentuated, since the Presidency of the Republic converted Chiapas into the principal theater of war and counterinsurgency operations, establishing in its military zones and regions an authentic army of armies.

The state governments, once distant and now dummies, continued to be conspicuous for their absence. As the historian Andrés Aubry recalled, Emilio Rabasa governed Chiapas from Mexico City, almost from Porfirio Díaz’s office. The unfolding of the revolutionary period turned it into a land of caciques and landowners, more than a consolidated federative state.

The 1994 explosion put this peripheral condition into evidence. The last governor prior to the indigenous uprising, Patrocinio González Garrido, had attempted to avoid the center, and its president Carlos Salinas de Gortari brought him in to take the crown away from the tropical kinglet, to make him Secretary of the Interior (Gobernación) and thus shorten his reins. This episode is part of the tragicomedy of the Chiapas political class (to call it something).

Now that a brutal and it would seem absurd violence lashes precisely the indigenous mountain regions of Chiapas, it’s essential to remember what contributed to such lack of control. The decomposition comes from the lack of fulfillment of the 1996 San Andrés Accords between the federal government and the EZLN and the definitive interruption of the most important negotiations between the State and the original peoples of all of Mexico in history, led by the liberated communities in a struggle for self-determination.

[1] Gatopardismo is the art of making change that doesn’t actually produce change, but rather keeps everything much the same.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, October 18, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The idea of conquest “helps to legitimize dominations”

By José Ignacio de Alba

La Gran Tenochtitlán | Mural by Diego Rivera.

MEXICO CITY.—Pedro Salmerón Sanginés does not hesitate to affirm: “There is no period in history that is worse told than the so-called conquest of Mexico.”

In other historical periods, says the historian, there are varied sources. But when it comes to Indian wars, the versions are limited to the vision of the colonizers. “For example, in this particular indigenous war, which is the war for Tenochtitlán, we don’t have a single source from the Mexica. We do not have Apache sources of the Apapache war, we do not have Chichimeca sources of the Chichimeca war. We have practically no Mayan sources of the so-called Caste War.”

It’s a short conversation, via zoom. Salmerón is a well-known historian with a vocation to the left, who has concentrated on studying the Mexican Revolution. His books La División del Norte (2006), Los Carrancistas (2010) are important documents to study the collapse of the dictator Porfirio Díaz. But in 2021, when it is 500 years since the fall of Tenochtitlán, Salmerón changes the century and publishes La Batalla por Tenochtitlán (Fondo de Cultura Económica).

He assures that the story of the self-appointed conquerors has permeated Mexico for years; It is a story that has worked “to politically justify the victorious captain, and to justify the claims of domination of the Spanish crown, over all of northern America.”

José Ignacio De Alba: But why does this version continue to be repeated in Mexico?

Pedro Salmerón Sanginés: The story of the conquest helps to legitimize dominations.

What happens with the indigenous versions, where there is talk of the Quetzalcóatl return?

It is an a posteriori explanation. If you check the sources you will see that the Mesoamericans, in general, and the Mexica in particular, never confused the Spanish with divinities. They never believed that Cortes was a divinity, they never considered horses divine animals. Reading the sources well, these were later versions, which are part of this legitimizing discourse. Also part of a particular world view, we have to understand that Europeans of the time were convinced that there is only one god, only one religion and only one valid way of worshiping that god and that everything that does not fit into it is evil, doomed or wrong.

If it’s not a conquest, what is it?

There are three things that overlap. The first is the invasion. The second is a war between the elites; between the western confederation led by Tenochtitlán, Texcoco and Tlacopan, against the eastern confederation led by Cholula, Huejotzingo and Tlaxcala. The third is a popular rebellion, something much less studied, against an elite of a confederation. All of this aggravated by epidemics.

The globalization of capitalism

In history the fall of Tenochtitlán is proposed to us as the end of the indigenous world, but you propose it as the beginning of a period …

It is the first chapter of the Spanish-Mesoamerican war, which lasts in the areas of central and western Mesoamerica, at least, until 1550… and in the Mayan areas it never ends. There are four expeditions to conquer Yucatán, but only the fourth manages to establish a definitive base for the Hispanic world, in the area of ​​Valladolid, Mérida and Campeche. That is, corners of the northwest and west of the peninsula. It is a war that does not end, with Independence. The last Mayan city-state surrendered in 1697 and in the jungle of what is now Quintana Roo they are never dominated. After the Mesoamerican war, other Indian wars follow, in what today we call Aridoamerica: the Chichimeca war, the Apache wars, the wars of the new Vizcaya, the war against the Yaquis, the war against the Comanches, the invasion of Tamaulipas that barely in 1701 an expedition of Otomí and Nahua Spaniards entered. To settle in what is now Tamaulipas, in effect, the end of the battle for Tenochtitlán is the end of the first episode. But many others followed.

In the book you also call that historical period as the “globalization of capitalism”, the first great enterprise of capitalism …

The Spanish irruption in Mexico is, therefore, one of the key pieces of the globalization of capitalism. Who best tells it is Immanuel Wallestein: “The world in which we live, the modern world system, had its origins in the 16th century. This world system was then located in only one part of the globe, mainly in parts of Europe and America. Over time, it expanded to encompass the entire world. It is and has always been a world-economy. It is and has always been a capitalist world-economy.”

The EZ, a key factor

How important is, within this whole context, the emergence of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation [EZLN]?

It is one of the last episodes of what we now call 500 years of resistance, one of the key episodes. It is not the EZLN that is isolated, it is a bunch of peasant and indigenous organizations, around the EZLN and not only in Mexico, but outside of Mexico. It is to show that in the 300 years of the so-called colony there is a perpetual war against the indigenous people, that indigenous resistance continues for the next 200 years. The 200 years that Mexico has been an independent state, one of whose characteristics is the combat, the attempted subjugation and the attempt to repress the indigenous and peasant communities.

After 500 years, from this great company of capitalism, there are still Mayans, Yaquis and many peoples now crushed by mining, wind-mills, agroindustrial companies … How should we tell the story of capitalism, they are no longer those actors who came from Europe but from the companies that continue to hoard resources, the land?

From my position as a militant, first we try to fight neoliberalism; and to the extent possible, when there are viable, alternatives to capitalism. But also, in effect, I agree with the EZLN that capitalism is predatory and exploitative and it continues to be.

And what do you think of the role of the government with this intention of retelling and reviewing the official history?

When Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) talks about the great story, he in many ways repeats a traditional story that we already know. But he also forces us to put things that we had not thought about and that we had not discussed; as seemingly minor things. He not only talks about the Independence, the Conquest, the Revolution, but he talks about the massacre of Chinese in Torreón, the repression of the Mayans, the Yaqui war, the fight for water.

*  *  *

Before saying goodbye, Salmerón says that after this book and the discussions he has had, he would like to write a book on the Indian wars from 1521 to 1810.

What other historical period is wrongly counted?

Well, looking at all of them, all of them (laughs).


José Ignacio De Alba

“He was educated in Catholic schools until he became an atheist. He is sullen and globetrotting. He studied journalism and never graduated. He tends to have more faith in old narratives than new ones. He likes to write stories.

“La idea de la conquista ayuda a legitimar dominaciones” originally published in Spanish in Pie de Página, October 16, 2021. Leer en español aquí

Translated by Chiapas Support Committee.

Moisés Gandhi autonomous community denounces armed attack from ORCAO

Moisés gandhi

Mural in Moisés Gandhi community.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Ajmaq Network of Resistance and Rebellion denounced that members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish) “once again began armed attacks against the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) in Moisés Gandhi autonomous community.”

In a communiqué, the organization said that the “attacks” started Wednesday at 8:30 pm, according to information from the Good Government Junta New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity,.

It added that at 1:25 am (in the very early hours of the morning) this Thursday: “the bursts of gunfire intensified, even entering the autonomous secondary (middle) school. At 2:20 pm the group of heavily armed people remained just 30 meters from the homes of the EZLN support base families, who had to forcibly displace to seek a safe refuge.”

It stated that: “the paramilitary group’s attacks ended at approximately 3:30 am (on the same Thursday), according to information from the Good Government Junta.”

The network recalled that a little more than a month ago members of ORCAO “arbitrarily detained José Antonio Sánchez Juárez and Sebastián Núñez Pérez,” members of the Junta. “We demand respect for the land and territory of the Zapatista peoples, for autonomy and self- determination,” the group concluded.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, October 15, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Comandante Machete: That the government recognizes our elected authorities and not Trujillo Morales!

El Machete

The El Machete Self-Defense group asks the government to recognize its authorities and not Raquel Trujillo Morales Photo: Isaín Mandujano

By: Isaín Mandujano

The El Machete Self-Defense group warned today that if “anything happens to” any of the three councilors of the municipal government of Pantelhó, of the 20 commissioners of the 86 communities or to Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, we are going to mobilize to reach all “possibilities.”

In a letter signed by Comandante Machete, leader of the Self-Defense group, he said today that the armed group made up of “indigenous soldiers” irrupted publicly last July 7 to confront the Los Herreras organized crime group, which from the municipal seat of Pantelhó under the command of Dayli de los Santos Herrera Gutiérrez, had already left a trail of some 200 dead people.

They did not rise up in arms for partisan political purposes, but rather they did it to put an end to the “criminal group” that from the PRD Municipal Council of Pantelhó, controlled the town’s resources (money), so that in the 86 rural communities support didn’t arrive and therefore they still lack good roads, schools, health centers, safe drinking water, electricity and other public services for the benefit of the population.

Commander Machete recalled that a commission of 20 people was created to represent the 86 communities and different neighborhoods of the municipal seat, and also that the State Congress swore in the three members of the Pantelhó Municipal Council, and that now we all walk together for the reconstruction of the municipality.

And that they won’t let the one who calls himself Mayor Raquel Trujillo Morales enter the municipality, because if he won these were not legitimate elections, since votes were bought and the voters were threatened to vote for the PRD in that municipality via “the hit men of Dayli” group.

They mentioned that this is an opportunity for the government to show whether it’s on the side of the people of Pantelhó or on the side of the Los Herrera sicarios, and if the government doesn’t recognize the authorities they elected, the government will only reaffirm “its abandonment and betrayal of the people of Pantelhó.”

They pointed out that neither the three councilors on the municipal council, nor the 20 commissioners from the 86 communities depend on them, and that as an armed group they don’t have to give orders to them; Los Machetes are only “for the protection of the people against the hit men.”


Given the allegations that Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez was the founder of that group and that he gives orders to the members of the Self-Defense group, Comandante Machete rejected such assertions, indicated that those accusations “are lies,” that they were organizing little by little, and that they didn’t even know Father Marcelo before they irrupted publicly.

They ask the government to investigate the Los Herrera group of sicarios. “The pain and death forced us to organize to defend our people. If we have more than 200 murdered, we cannot stay with our arms crossed,” they said.

And that Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez has only been a mediator for peace, a mediator in the dialogue tables, a peacemaker who has kept violence from spilling over in that municipality.

Therefore they warned that if “anything” happens to the three councilors, the 20 commissioners or to Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, they are going to mobilize as far as they can to protect and defend them from those who attack them.

They asked the state and federal governments to better investigate the criminal group of Dayli de los Santos Herrera Gutiérrez, who the State Attorney General arrested Tuesday, accused of being the alleged intellectual author of the murder of the indigenous justice prosecutor, Gregorio Pérez Gómez, riddled with bullets last August 10 in the southern part of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

They should investigate who the ex military man is that came to train the hit men (sicarios) of the “Los Herrera” organized crime group and also investigate their protectors in the state capital, such as César Espinosa Morales, one of the state leaders of the PRD in Chiapas.

The El Machete self-defense group said nothing about the 21 missing persons, who their relatives claim and who accuse El Machete of having kidnapped last July 26 in the municipal seat of Pantelhó.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Altamirano residents resort to armed self-defense to shake off the caciques


Above Photo is a screen shot taken from the armed self-defense group’s video.

By: Angeles Mariscal

In Altamirano, the municipality located in the jungle zone of Chiapas, the Kanter family has governed since 2002. The men of the family and their wives have rotated holding the position of municipal president. Residents of the place decided that this was going to end, and since last October 1 they closed the entrance to the municipal seat to prevent Gabriela Roque Tipacamú, wife of Roberto Pinto Kanter, from taking office as mayor. Meanwhile, in support of this movement, an armed self-defense group came to public light in this municipality.

“The self-defense group greets you. We’ll leave it without a name, not because it doesn’t have one, but rather out of respect for the EZLN brothers. What we are interested in telling you from this municipality of Altamirano, Chiapas, is that we have seen how the rich protect each other, how the politicians protect each other, regardless of party. They want to deceive us sating that because they changed political party now they are new. What never changes is their indifference to us, the indigenous Tseltal and Tojolabal peoples,” they said in a video, where a group of masked men are observed, carrying hunting rifles, like those used in rural communities. Watch the video in Spanish here: 

Altamirano is one of the municipalities that the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) took over in January 1994. It was also in January 1994 when opponents came out against the Zapatista movement and its measures for regaining possession, such as taking over ranches and haciendas that were in the possession of the latifundistas (big plantation owners) where the indigenous peoples worked as housed peons (serfs).

Jorge Constantino Kanter was one of them. He headed the hacendados (plantation owners) of Altamirano, Comitán and Las Margaritas, in the marches and protests to demand that the Mexican Army enter the jungle to fight the Zapatistas.

Constantino Kanter became famous for saying loudly: “the life of a chicken is worth more than the life of an indigenous person.” They didn’t recover their ranches, now in the possession of indigenous peoples, but the Kanter family held on to political power in the region.

Armando Pinto Kanter occupied the municipal presidency of Altamirano between 2002 and 2004 and Jorge Constantino Kanter occupied the presidency of Comitán from 2005 to 2007. Heidi Pino Escobar, wife of Armando Pinto Kanter, occupied the presidency of Altamirano from 2007 to 2010 after his brother-in-law, Roberto Pinto Kanter, left the position. In 2015, Roberto’s wife, Gabriela Roque Tipacamú, was in the presidency; however on this occasion she was punished for the direct marital relationship with her predecessor, but Roberto Pinto Kanter reclaimed the presidency again in 2018, and he inherited it again from Gabriela Roque, his wife, for the period that would begin last October 1.

It was at this time that Altamirano residents protested, arrested Roberto Pinto Kanter, burned the family house and closed off access to the municipality. Since then, they have demanded that the Chiapas government form a municipal council. There has not been a response. And it’s in this context that a new armed self-defense group announced itself in Altamirano on October 7.

“We are seeing how our brothers from different communities have been fighting for several days, under the sun and the rain, to drive out the Pinto (Kanter) family, who came just to take advantage of the pay: abandoned highways, people without jobs, a lot of migration to the United States, because we live in the same poverty. There is no electricity, water, the hardest, without justice and without democracy,” they said in the video, this self-defense group.

“Here, the one who wins an election is the one who has the most money, because here in Altamirano, democracy and justice have a price. To these brothers who are struggling, we say that they have our support. We will help them defend this territory, at whatever cost, so that there are no more criminals and thieves, so that deaf and self-seeking governments end, and so that the exploitation of our natural resources ends.

From the mountains of Altamirano, ¡Viva Altamirano! ¡Viva the self-defense groups!” they maintained. In Chiapas, last July, the first self-defense group emerged in Pantelhó municipality, “Los Machetes,” who expelled the municipal authorities, and who they consider part of the organized crime groups that had positioned themselves in the region and murdered dozens of residents. In addition to “Los Machetes” and the Altamirano group, two other groups have come forth, one in Simojovel, and another that claimed to be “people of the jungle.” Residents of those localities have not legitimized the latter two.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Friday, October 8, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They demand forming a municipal council in Altamirano


Above Photo: La Jornada – In an assembly held on September 24, hundreds of residents of Altamirano, Chiapas, demanded forming a municipal council, thereby rejecting that Gabriela Roque Tipacamú, of the Green Party, govern the place. 

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

Ejido owners and residents of Altamirano municipality demanded that Mayor Gabriela Roque Tipacamú and her predecessor, her husband Roberto Pinto Kánter, held in the ejido’s jail for the last four days, “leave town definitively, because “they have threatened to murder four or five” representatives of the movement against them.

Leaders of the protesters, who asked to remain anonymous for fear that Gabriela Roque and Roberto Pinto might retaliate against them, said that it is not known if Roque Tipacamú took the oath of office as mayor on September 30, when the council that her husband headed concluded its functions, or on October 1, “but she has not been seen in the town.”

They assured that: “the people no longer only have the initial demand that a municipal council be formed so that the couple no longer can govern, but that the whole family leave the municipality.” They added that: “the people are very agitated and inflamed, but there has been no answer from the state government, although the local Congress also has to participate, not just the Secretary of Government.”

They emphasized that at the moment, residents of the 10 neighborhoods that make up the city of Altamirano [1] are in charge of providing security to the population, because the municipal police have been without leadership since September 30, when Pinto Kánter was arrested in his private domicile. They commented that the former mayor couldn’t be released “just like that, but that there has to be an agreement, with the state government’s intervention.”

They recalled that the couple has governed the municipality for nine years, “and if Roque Tipacamú stays it will be 12 years. The people got tired of them being the same as shock groups and buying votes in order to direct the destinies of the municipality.”

They added that in an assembly held Sunday night it was agreed that the Pinto Roque family must leave Altamirano, “it’s no longer that they don’t govern, because of what he has said that by leaving he’s going to carry out an operation to murder four or five.”

The opponents specified that: “the demand is that they leave and that a municipal council is formed, they can no longer be in Altamirano because they have done a lot of damage to the municipality, and because on Sunday they again threatened to move people from some rural areas. We are calm and peaceful, hoping that the state government will resolve the situation.”

The leaders pointed out that since September 29 they have blocked access to the municipal seat, allowing passage every six hours, and they don’t rule out that they will close down completely this Tuesday.

Regarding security within the municipality, they stated that 10 residents of each one of the neighborhoods carry out surveillance tasks in order to prevent crime, besides the fact that it was agreed to establish a “dry law,” with the argument that individuals could insult or attack someone after drinking alcoholic beverages. “Five people have already been arrested and accused of robbery, and were locked up in the jail and authorities of the municipal agency will judge them,” they declared.

They referred to the fact that due to the lack of authority in Altamirano the garbage has not been collected or taken to the dump that is located in the town of Santa Rosa, three kilometers from the municipal seat. “The municipal council that Pinto presided over left a garbage dump because it didn’t pay for the passage of the trucks. Perhaps tomorrow (Tuesday), with the support of dump truck transportation they will take away the garbage, but the problem is that at the access to the dump they unloaded before reaching the ravine and it’s difficult for a car to pass; you have to bring in a backhoe to clean up,” they said.

[1] The City of Altamirano is just a few miles down the road from Zapatista Caracol IV, located in Morelia, where the Women’s Gatherings have taken place.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

A Community Guard emerges in Simojovel


They threaten to “act” if the local government fails to comply with respect for indigenous rights and 7 demands

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Yesterday, a self-defense group called the Armed Force of Simojovel [1] publicly announced its emergence for the purpose of demanding respect for human rights in that municipality, located in the northern part of the state of Chiapas, as well as the fulfillment of seven demands.

“This message is directed to the incoming (municipal) president, Gilberto Fidel Martínez Andrade (of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico) and to the groups that he heads, which we have identified,” it explained in a video recording. It pointed out that: “it’s well known that in previous administrations the municipal presidents did what they wanted and they all went unpunished.”

The community guard pointed out that they demand: “1) respect for our indigenous demands, 2) no more diversion of the people’s resources, 3) we will not permit hit men (sicarios) or armed drug traffickers, 4) zero tolerance for cantinas and clandestine drug sales, 5) No more deaths in the streets of Simojovel, 6) dignified medical care for the people in general and 7) that public safety is for the people and not the criminals.”

An “independent force, without political party”

The Armed Force of Simojovel, which they say is “an independent force, without political party,” warned that: “if these just demands are not met, we will act accordingly against the bad municipal government.”

In a video distributed through social networks, the self-defense group called the Armed Force of Simojovel announced its emergence. The above photo was taken from a video on Twitter

In the screen shot of the video recording distributed through the social networks, one observes a dozen men with high-power weapons, without uniforms, rubber boots, with caps and their faces covered with a paliacate (bandana), and a red flag in the background. One of them read a communiqué:

“Today we have formed the Armed Force of the People for the purpose of demanding respect for human rights; if we have not entered the town it’s out of respect and to safeguard the integrity of the citizenry, but we will take action soon if they don’t meet our demands.”

Tsotsil priest leaves the parish after 10 years

In other news, Catholics in Simojovel said goodbye this weekend to the Tsotsil priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, who headed the parish for the last ten years. For that reason, a “celebration of the Holy Eucharist” took place on Saturday.

“We give thanks to God for life, peace and freedom in which he has allowed us to serve for 10 years in this blessed little town of Simojovel; God has asked me and the priest José Elías to serve in another place,” Father Marcelo said.

The Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas has not said to what parish it will assign Pérez Pérez, a native of San Andrés Larráinzar.

[1] Simojovel is one of the municipalities that borders on Pantelhó in the Chiapas Highlands (Los Altos de Chiapas).


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, October 4, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

A second armed group emerges in Chiapas, to support El Machete


Photo: People of the Jungle, an armed group in Chiapas, emerges in support of El Machete (Screen Shot)

The new armed group is called Gente de la Selva (People of the Jungle) and emerged in support of the El Machete Self-Defense group against the municipal government of Pantelhó

By: El Debate

Chiapas – “People of the Jungle” is another armed group that emerged in a video published on social networks, where they launched a threat at the three levels of government and showed support for the El Machete Self-Defense group that led an uprising against the municipal government of Pantelhó, Chiapas.

The drug war continues generating violence and fear among Pantelhó residents, since they confrontations have emerged between rival groups that have made them leave their homes and displace to other territories. This tension will be increased given the appearance of the new-armed group “People of the Jungle.”

“We are People of the Jungle, people from the mountains and the bush, and this communiqué is to let the El Machete Self-Defense group know that it is not alone. We, those of the jungle, are here to support you, mentioned a man equipped with a bulletproof vest, a long gun and wearing a cap with the Mexican flag.

The video was broadcast through the social networks where dozens of subjects with faces covered and military clothing can be seen carrying long arms in the middle of a mountain, en which they broadcast a threat to the three levels of government in Mexico.

The spokesperson for the armed group supported the actions of El Machete to confront the mayor of Pantelhó, Raquel Trujillo Morales, who [allegedly] took the oath of office last Friday October 1, and who is the husband of former municipal president Delia Velasco; the couple was accused of financing organized crime.

“We support the machetes of the armed uprising against the narco municipal council that operates in Pantelhó of the current (sic) president and her husband, Raquel Trujillo, who have been financing organized crime, which is led by Dayli Herrera,” said the armed subject.

The drug trafficking group mentioned is that of “Los Herrera.” The leaders of that organization would be Austraberto Herrera Abarca, Daily de los Santos Herrera Gutiérrez, Rubén Estanislao Herrera Gutiérrez, Raquel Trujillo Morales, (elected president) and Delia Janeth Velasco Flores (ex substitute president). They would also be Wendy Lorena López Goches, director of Civil Protection, Arturo Martín Ramos Salazar, José Lázaro Gutiérrez Ballinas and José Francisco Ballinas Rojas.

To end the video, the “People of the Jungle” group reaffirmed its support for El Machete: “Cheer up Machete, we’re here. So, any attack against that Machete Self-Defense group, we’re here to support. Courage, don’t crack, we’re here for you. Iron.”


Originally Published in Spanish by El Debate

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They won’t let the PRD mayor govern, Pantelhó self-defense forces warn


Above Photo: El Machete Self-Defense Forces of Pantelhó

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

After PRD member Raquel Trujillo Morales supposedly took the oath of office as mayor of Pantelhó secretly in a Tuxtla Gutiérrez hotel, the El Machete Self-Defense forces of the People warned that: “he will not be able to enter the town” to govern.

“We’re not worried, because the authorities and the people of the 86 communities are supporting the municipal council” that took office last August 18 de and whose functions concluded on September 30, one of their representatives remarked.

A high-level source in the state government informed La Jornada that Trujillo Morales accepted last week that he will not be able to govern and promised to ask for leave after taking the oath of office. Nevertheless, “he doesn’t even answer now and we don’t know where he is,” after adding that the situation in Pantelhó is tense, that’s why security was recently reinforced in order to prevent violent acts.

The El Machete representative consulted on Saturday said that: “although Raquel wants to come to govern Pantelhó, who is going to want him if he has no people?” He asserted that Trujillo Morales is no longer going to enter, although the government wants him to govern Pantelhó, it won’t be that way because the only thing that’s going to happen “is that more blood is going to run in Pantelhó.”

He commented: “they say that Raquel Trujillo took the oath of office in a hotel; but we don’t worry because the 86 agents are in favor of the council. We will wait today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday) to see how he is.”

For his part, the state government source pointed out that Trujillo Morales “has already been told, it has already been made clear to him and he knows it, that they are not going to even allow him to enter (Pantelhó). He is clear that he cannot take office and that they are not going to let him govern because the people reject him, that is more than clear.”

He added that the state authorities are “speaking with all parties and seeing with those who remained as councilors, whose term ended on September 30. We will see how we can work together so that violence is not generated.”

Rumor that he took the oath of office in a hotel

He said that the PRD member “supposedly took the oath of office Friday in a hotel, and that cannot be, although legally from the first minute of October 1 he is the authority, but de facto it’s not him; it definitely cannot be him, because he cannot be imposed.

We don’t know where he is; he had come to the government palace asking for security and we told him that the conditions did not exist for him to take office, and suddenly he stopped responding, left [the government palace] and now he has appeared in some videos” saying that he took the oath of office.

The source affirmed that Raquel Trujillo accepted requesting an indefinite leave of absence, “but someone advises him and makes him change his mind. He agreed to the request for leave last week; but now he is refusing.”

Meanwhile in Altamirano, Roberto Pinto Kanter, whose responsibility as mayor of Altamirano ended September 30, completed two days this Saturday in the ejido’s jail, located in the municipal seat, by hundreds of residents who demanded that his wife, Gabriela Roque Tipacamú, both from the Green Party, not assume the position of municipal president and that a municipal council be named in her place.

“The former mayor complains that he is in poor health. We are looking for a way to release him, and in that case, (Roque Tipacamú) will not be able to take office either, although she is already taking office as municipal president,” the same Chiapas government source stated.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee