From the Editorial Desk at La Jornada.
The Morena party nominated former PRI member Jorge Constantino Kánter for municipal president of Comitán, Chiapas. He is one of the most belligerent leaders of the cattlemen and ranchers opposed the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) in 1994 and indigenous populations, against which he headed violent operations.
Constantino Kánter was the mayor of Comitán during the 2005-2007 term for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) from which he was expelled a little after finishing his term. He was accused of supporting the Party of the Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) in the 2006 elections for governor.
The politician became notorious, among other episodes, for discriminatory phrases, like what he said to TV UNAM journalists who in that year were preparing the documentary The Deepest Root, for TV UNAM: “If the Indians want to live may they live, but not in our state.”
At the head of cattlemen and ranchers in Ocosingo, Altamirano and Las Margaritas, mainly, he headed protests against the EZLN and to demand that the Mexican Army enter the jungle to fight the rebels who had taken possession of their properties, which converted him into one of the principal anti-Zapatista leaders in Chiapas1.
His nomination as candidate for mayor surprised Morena militants committed to the project of the Fourth Transformation. “Constantino Kánter is a reactionary, an anti-Zapatista conservative who promoted violence against the indigenous peoples, which does not represent the ideological and political proposal of Morena,” a founder of the PRD and Morena reproached, someone who for more than two decades has worked together with now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and asked to remain anonymous.
Constantino Kánter’s motto was era: “In Chiapas a chicken is worth more than an indigenous person” and he organized attacks against thousands of those who fought for the elimination of political bossism (Caciquismo) and the restitution of their lands.
He was a staunch enemy of Bishop Samuel Ruiz and the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas. He harassed and sought to expel Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who since 1976 took care of the San Carlos Hospital in Altamirano, which gave service to poor campesinos at no charge.
Constantino Kánter made his political career under the former PRI governor Roberto Albores Guillén and his son, Roberto Albores Gleason. Many considered him the representative of the most backward sector of Chiapas finqueros (estate owners), who until a few years ago asserted the right of pernada 2, abused women and had to be carried in chairs by the indigenous peoples.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada on Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee, and re-posted by Schools for Chiapas.
- Constantino Kánter was also featured with members of his family in Nettie Wilde’s “A Place Called Chiapas,” a film about the Zapatista Uprising.
- The right of pernada refers to the right of feudal lords to rape their female servants. In Chiapas, that right accrued to the estate owners.