Exodus of population fleeing cartels increases in Chiapas, urgent help needed

Ángeles Mariscal

For the second consecutive day, thousands of residents of the highlands-border area continue to evacuate towns to flee forced recruitment and clashes between drug cartels. This Wednesday they crossed the La Angostura dam. They are residents of four municipalities: Chicomuselo, Frontera Comalapa, La Concordia and Socoltenango.

Children, the elderly, men and women carrying some of their belongings in plastic bags walked to the shore of the La Angostura dam, which runs from the northern municipalities of Chicomuselo and Frontera Comalapa, towards the central zone of the state.

These are the people who left Chicomuselo when yesterday, Tuesday, elements of the Mexican Army and the National Guard attacked them as they entered their communities, presumably in an attempt to combat organized crime groups.

That day, residents of Rizo de Oro, Guadalupe, San José Maravilla, San Isidro, Resplandor, Colonia El Retiro, among others that make up the area of Los Lagos, in the municipality of La Concordia, joined those displaced from Chicomuselo.

Also arriving, carrying only clothes and personal documents, were residents of Puerto Rico and Nuevo Chejel, in the municipality of Socoltenango, and inhabitants of the Frontera Comalapa area, which also borders the dam.

On the shore, the boatmen expressed their fear that members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) or Sinaloa cartels would attack them for supporting the population.

However, upon seeing the people who had spent the night on the shore, they gradually began to take them over the dam.

The Caritas organization is asking for the support of the population to support the displaced people. “Since January 16, hundreds of families from various communities in the municipalities of Chicomuselo, Socoltenango and La Concordia, Chiapas, have been displaced by the violence in their communities. In their flight, they have left with nothing; therefore they require our help,” the petition states.

They explained that clothing for women and children, comfortable shoes, personal hygiene items and non-perishable food items are urgently needed. The economic aid is through the Caritas de San Cristobal de Las Casas A.C. account.

If you want to donate to these families in crisis, and cannot donate directly through your bank account, you can donate to our emergency fund with the recipient name Chicomuselo and email direccion1@ceps.org.mx.

Military clashes with population trapped by the dispute between cartels, in the Sierra of Chiapas

Ángeles Mariscal

 Communities are caught in the crossfire between the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), the Sinaloa Cartel (CDS), and now the Mexican Army.

Elements of the Mexican Army today entered communities in the municipality of Chicomuselo, who are also being threatened by the Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and Sinaloa (CDS) cartels to join them. The population is now caught between these three groups and most of them had to flee to try to survive.

Around 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 16, elements of the Mexican Army (SEDENA) and the National Guard forcibly entered the communities of Chegel, Socoltenango, Puerto Rico, Nueva América, among others in the municipality of Chicomuselo.

At the beginning of January, members of the Sinaloa Cartel arrived in these communities and demanded a list of all the people who make up the ejidos in order to force them to join their ranks. The population refused and demanded that they leave.

The criminal group threatened them and told them that they were going to return. At that moment there was a first massive exodus of those who were able to flee, so most of those who remained in the area are elderly men and women.

Months earlier, these same communities had been threatened by the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation, a group that, through an armed wing called MAIZ, has control of the municipal capital of this place and of Frontera Comalapa.

The CDS and the CJNG maintain an armed dispute for control of the state of Chiapas and the trafficking routes for people, arms and drugs entering the country through the southern border. In their dispute, they have murdered and disappeared hundreds of people, and have placed entire towns under siege.

According to the villagers, the Mexican army in some places has ignored them and one of the cartels operates in front of them; in other cases it has attacked the civilian population, which is now trapped in the crossfire of the three.

In this context, the military forcibly entered communities in Chicomuselo. The population asked them to withdraw, that they did not want confrontations in their towns. The soldiers responded by throwing tear gas at them and beating them.

One of the soldiers shouted threateningly: “You are obstructing the way of the authorities, it is our duty to recognize everywhere, to give security to the community, to all, even. What is the problem? The problem is you, cowards! Because you are afraid of two or three armed people,” he said in reference to the population’s complaints about the fear they have against the cartels.

“That’s what they have to unite for. Like you, like you bastard who has the muzzle. Are you the one pushing them or what? Take off your bandana, don’t hide, what are you recording me for, you coward. If you are gentlemen, if you have them on, keep quiet. You, I’ve got you spotted. I’ve got you spotted, you bastard. I’m going into town,” he warned them.

The villagers tried to explain to them that they would not support either cartel, that they wanted the cartels and the army to leave their area. However, the military entered the villages and destroyed the residents’ belongings.

“The army threw stones and threw stones and tear gas. They were carrying bars, they disrupted the lines of the peasant farmers and the people could no longer stand it,” explained a peasant farmer.

He explained that as best they could they left the communities to flee the possible confrontations between the cartels and the army. However, he said, their only way out is through the Angostura dam, which borders the municipality of La Concordia.

There the boatmen refused to transport them -just yesterday in the municipality one of the cartels left four human heads inside a cooler-, so the population was once again trapped on the banks of the dam.

“They fled, the children fled, the sick people in wheelbarrows. They fled to the mountains, to the dam. But the other problem is that they are stuck there, no one will take  them, the boatmen have also left.

“So it’s chaos here on the banks of the dam, it’s very ugly. The houses are closed, everything is closed, abandoned. They abandoned their animals, their stock animals, cattle, horses, their cars. They could no longer move anywhere.”

Both articles published in Chiapas Paralelo, on the 17th and 16th of January 2024. https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2024/01/se-incrementa-exodo-de-poblacion-que-huye-de-carteles-en-chiapas-piden-ayuda/ and https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2024/01/chocan-militares-con-poblacion-atrapada-por-la-disputa-entre-carteles-en-sierra-de-chiapas/
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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