Chiapanecan Chapulineo

Senator Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar (center), Javier Collazo Gómez, one of the heads of Chamula Power(right); Domingo Ruiz López, alias El Pixtol (left) Photo: Rompeviento

Upon arriving in Chiapas, Claudia Sheimbaum stated: “There was a Prian (PRI stronghold) here, but it has disappeared.” It is true, but she failed to add: its militants are today in the ranks of Morena, the Green Party and the Labor Party.

This is not an exaggeration. If there is any state where political chapulineo (jumping between political parties)  is the order of the day, it is in the land of the poet Juan Sabines.

The former PRI’s electoral silo is now the territory of the Green-Morenista alliance, without a change of elites having taken place. The old Chiapas family and their descendants are an enthusiastic part of the 4T. They continue doing the same authoritarian politics as always, violating human rights as in the past and enjoying the same business as in other times, but wearing a different jersey.

The candidate for governor of the state for the coalition Sigamos Haciendo Juntos Historia, Senator Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, modestly self-identified as Jaguar Negro, joined the PVEM in 2008 and for years was an ally of the PRI and a belligerent opponent of Obrador. Between that year and 2010 he served as mayor of Comitán. Fortune soon smiled upon him and he held a federal seat from 2012 to 2013. From there he jumped to be Secretary General of Government until 2015, when Manuel Velasco was governor. Luck was on his side and he won a local seat in Congress from 2015 to 2018, to take over the presidency of the board of directors. The stars did not align and he could not become governor, however, he jumped ship in time to Morena, to be elected senator. Fortune now smiles on him once again.

When he was mayor of Comitán, a strategic city between the border zone with Guatemala and the rest of the state, and Secretary of Government, Gilberto Rivera Amarillas, Tío Gil or El Señor de la Frontera Sur, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, extradited to the United States in 2017, set up his headquarters in that region. When el Jaguar Negro was questioned about his possible relationship with the kingpin, he responded that it was “completely false. He is a visible figure in Chiapas, but from that to me having a relationship…”

Ernesto Ledesma documented the deep nexus between Senator Ramirez and Mario and Javier Collazo Gomez, heads of Chamula Power. Also with Domingo Ruiz, El Pixtol, administrator of the stalls in the North Market of San Cristobal de las Casas, a known drug dealing center (

Another prominent figure in Chiapas is Dr. José Cruz Castellanos, candidate for senator for Morena. Secretary of Health for the government of Rutilio Escandón, he was questioned by journalists about the arrival of dust from the Sahara to the state, and the possible damage to health that it could cause.

Exhibiting all his wisdom, he answered: “The arrival of no foreigner, of no Mexican, of none of those who come to Chiapas, is harming nor can harm Chiapas because we have a great filter at the airport.”

In response to the confusion, the reporters told him that they were referring to the cloud of sand that would enter Mexico.

Inspired, he replied with new nonsense: “Without any problem, everything that arrives is subject to epidemiological surveillance and laboratory studies, so we have a context to protect the population. The sanitary filters were set up for that purpose.”

Doctor Cruz began his political career in the PRI, joined the PRD, then the PVEM to (for the time being) join Morena. A figure very close to Grupo Tabasco of which Rosalinda López Hernández is a member, wife of Governor Rutilio Escandón and general administrator of the SAT, Cruz competed in 2015 for the Green Party to be a candidate for deputy for the sixth district of Tabasco.

Rafael Ceballos Cancino, El Coyolito, was a leader of Cenecistas coffee growers in Chiapas and, for many years a PRI member at heart, as well as a skilled operator in the sleight of hand of transforming the delivery of public resources into votes. His merits were recognized with the appointment of president of the Agriculture Commission of the Chamber of Deputies in the 56th Legislature (1994-97).

In 1998, the Attorney General’s Office investigated him for forming, financing and protecting the paramilitary group Los Chinchulines. Still active in the municipalities of Chilón and Yajalón, this group was responsible for more than 50 murders, some of them of PRD members, the destruction of crops and houses, as well as the theft of cattle, corn and beans.

With the arrival of Juan Sabines Guerrero to the governorship of Chiapas, Coyolito was named coordinator of the new administration’s star program: the Agricultural Confidence Agreement (Codecoa). In the process, he joined the PRD. He is now president of the Movimiento Nacional Campesino Ecologista, a member of the Green Party and organizer of Claudia Sheimbaun’s campaign in the state.

Lord of the gallows and knife, Jorge Constantino Kanter liked to say that in Chiapas “a chicken is worth more than the life of an Indian.” An old PRI member, he demanded the expulsion of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who had been attending the San Carlos hospital in Altamirano since 1976. He attacked students traveling to Altamirano to offer solidarity. From 2005 to 2007 he was mayor of Comitán, with the support of the PRI and then with the backing of the PRD, under the orders of Juan Sabines. He then joined Morena. Now, he has jumped to the Green Party. ” It is a pleasure to welcome the leader of the Alliance for Comitán, Jorge Constantino Kanter, who joined the family of the Green Ecologist Party,” declared the delegate of the party, Roberto Rubio Montejo.

The list of old PRI militants that today make up the coalition Sigamos Haciendo Juntos Historia is endless. This is just a short list. There are, among them, paramilitaries, landowners, old politicians, mafiosos and cattle ranchers. They are the same ones who have governed the state for decades. Of course, the PRI, PAN and MC are the same.

Original article by Luis Hernández Navarro published in La Jornada on April 23, 2024.
Photo from Rompeviento.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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