Crime Rules Indigenous Areas of Chiapas, says Women’s Assembly

by Elio Henríquez

The assembly of the Women’s Movement for the Defense of Mother Earth and Our Territories reaffirmed its decision to articulate peoples, networks, collectives of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the National Indigenous Congress and the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle against the imposition of megaprojects, violence, drug trafficking, prostitution and alcoholism.

During the two-day meeting held in the municipal dome in the capital of Chapultenango, in the north of the state, the approximately 80 women also agreed to continue “defending mother earth with organization and dignity.”

In a statement released on Monday, the participants, from the Zoque, north-Palenque, jungle, coast and highlands regions of Chiapas, agreed that “in all our territories organized crime is present and reigning; we see the increase in the sale and circulation of weapons, drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism, in collusion with a militarization process that allows the dispossession and control of our territories.”

Women gathered in Chapultenango for the assembly of Women’s Movement for Defense of Mother Earth and Our Territories.

They announced that “we will defend our mother earth from the misnamed Mayan train, from hydrocarbon and geo-park projects, from the gas pipeline and agro-toxins, and from the monopolization and contamination of water.”

According to the statement, the attendees from the Tsotsil region shared that in that region there is “an increase of bars, circulation of alcohol, drugs and weapons; constant displacements in vehicles of armed groups; increase in the migration of young people and those who stay in our communities no longer respect women and the elderly.”

In the Tseltal region, they added, “women are not taken into account, our rights are not respected, and there is contempt for widows and/or single mothers. The uses and customs of the community violate us and dispossess us of our lands without taking into account that the land gives us life and from it we feed ourselves”.

They expressed that in San Cristóbal “we are experiencing dispossession through land invasion provoked by armed groups with the complicity of government officials and hotel businessmen who monopolize the water by destroying mountain wetlands and marshes. There are several groups of armed youths called motonetos that make gun battles a daily occurrence, and put a strain on the daily lives of women and children. There is more presence of the National Guard that pretends not to see or hear.”

The women of the northern zone-Palenque stated that “with the construction of the mis-named Mayan Train, there has been an increase in the clearing and destruction of hills, water contamination and dispossession/displacement of communities. The commercialization of Mayan culture is present, favoring private business initiative. Prostitution is increasing and migration is visible. Groups of motorcycle gangs linked to organized crime have appeared and are carrying out assassinations, with the National Guard simulating its role and generating fear and terror with its presence in the daily life of the population.”

In the coastal zone, meanwhile, the “threat of construction of the gas pipeline that comes from the Oaxaca inter-oceanic project, which will pass through the entire coast to Guatemala; the construction of the mega highways in connection with the Mayan train and inter-oceanic train; an increase in mining projects; sale of land to business speculation for hotel projects” persists. Disappearance of girls, young women and adults that most of the time turn into femicides and human trafficking.”

They pointed out that the Zoque zone, “being the headwaters of a river basin, is being threatened by mega-projects related to mining, hydroelectric, geothermal and hydrocarbon projects. We are convinced of the link between corporate interests, the Federal Electricity Commission and institutions of the bad government together with organized crime for the execution of projects and an example is the Study for the Integral Management of the Basins that represents the dispossession and destruction of our lands.”

They stated that “another example is the case of the town of El Platanar as ‘sacrificial territory’, where they caused a hydrocarbon spill that affects the Grijalva River, due to the negligence of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the complicity of the government, causing forced displacement and 5 thousand inhabitants without drinking water.”

This article was published in La Jornada on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/09/20/estados/el-crimen-gobierna-zonas-indigenas-de-chiapas-senala-asamblea-de-mujeres/ English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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