Chiapas: Prelude to Hell (I)

Chiapas: Prelude to Hell (I)

If the early years of the second decade of the 21st century, the state of Chiapas began to show signs of violence never seen before in the Mexican southeast. In the six years of the government of Manuel Velasco Coello (2012-2018), the process of internal decomposition accelerated significantly.

Mexico has the peculiarity of experiencing first-hand that hell can be infinite, that is, when we think that we have already hit rock bottom, it turns out that we have not. That is the case in the state of Chiapas, one can think that there cannot be another worse governor, then Rutilio Escandón Cadenas arrives, a governor absent in the broad sense of obligations a statesman:

• Ensuring compliance with rights.

• Ensuring the healthy development of the individual.

• Ensuring safety.

• Guaranteeing the right to property of citizens.

Equal legal assistance.

Listening to Governor Escandón Cadenas speak about security and justice, in the morning conferences of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, causes stupefaction. He describes Chiapas as if it were Finland. Thus, while those above describe the Scandinavian region, below its inhabitants observe in horror, the nightmare at the door of their house, their hut, their land… in their territory. Currently, almost all regions and areas of the state of Chiapas are controlled by different drug cartels or criminal cells, particularly in the Highlands, North, Jungle, Center, Border, Sierra, Soconusco, and Costal areas.

The Secretary for National Defense (SEDENA) has its own diagnostic.

Remember that the Pacific Cartel (C.D.P.) is the Sinaloa Cartel (C.D.S). For the purposes of this text, we will refer to them as C.D.S.

As you can see in the organization chart from SEDENA, the military institution identifies the operation of the cartel or criminal cell, according to each region: Los Huistas (from Guatemala) operating in the border region, Los Zetas in Frontera Comalapa, or the Sinaloa carte, which controls most of the Chiapas territory. Not only are these criminal groups operating in Chiapas, it also identifies the Mara Salvatrucha with two criminal cells, the MS-13 and Barrio-18, both from the Republic of El Salvador, with a strong presence in Palenque.

In this text, I will focus on trying to explain what is happening in a region of the Chiapas Highlands, San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the link with San Juan Chamula and nearby municipalities.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas has become a key dispute center for different cartels and criminal cells. Without control or diagnosis involved, permits for the opening of new bars and various businesses spread like a plague throughout the city, from a Walmart at the exit to Chamula, to the most modest bar in the heart of the city. Everything happens there, drug sales, prostitution, trafficking of illegal migrants, money laundering, arms sales, even buying and selling stolen vehicle parts. None of the levels of government intervened, not even the municipal, state or federal levels. Nobody made the effort or the call to implement a structural and systematic strategy to stop or contain the expansion of criminal groups, on the contrary, in many cases, the authorities themselves are part of these structures.

On April 17th, scenes of violence and panic were observed in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. The act that triggered the violence was the murder of Mr. Jerónimo Ruiz López, indicated in various media as the leader of artisans in the Santo Domingo market. Don Jerónimo was assassinated when he was getting out of his vehicle, with guns fired by young people who were travelling on motorcycles.

The murder of Jerónimo Ruiz López and the violent acts suffered by the residents of San Cristóbal is only the prelude to what is to come in the Mexican southeast, and if it is not seen to urgently, what happens in the Chiapas Highlands area.

Rompeviento TV has been monitoring what is happening in that area for some years, and on the last trip we made from Wednesday April 12th to 16th, we continued with various interviews and inquiries in the municipalities of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chamula, Aldama and Chenalho.

This is the first of a series of articles that we will be presenting to you in the following days, and are intended to present or clarify the complex framework that lives in a town classified as “Magic Town”, known by the Tzotzil peoples as the Jovel Valley, today known as San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in the state of Chiapas.

Original article by Ernesto Ledesma at

Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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