Four thousand displaced residents reject returning to Tila

Displaced people from Tila, Chiapas, demand security and conditions from the government to be able to return to their homes on June 11, 2024. Photo Cuartoscuro / La Jornada

The more than 4 thousand displaced residents of the municipality of Tila agreed not to return to their homes, as they feel that there are insufficient security conditions.

They also said that they will not return until they have legal certainty over their properties and the rule of law is applied against those who destroyed their property and caused them to leave town last Friday.

If they tell us that the Mexican Army and the National Guard (GN) are going to stay, how long are they going to protect us if the government does not give them the right to do what they should, that is, to arrest,” said a woman.

Before hundreds of people gathered in an assembly in the neighboring municipality of Yajalón, where they are refugees, an inhabitant asked: “How are we going to return? or do you want to return?”, to which the majority answered, “No.”

Federal, state and municipal authorities of Tila agreed on Monday that the return of the more than 4,000 displaced persons would begin yesterday, for which the state Civil Protection Secretariat had arranged transportation.

According to the agreement, federal and state security forces would accompany the return and would remain in Tila as long as necessary to guarantee the safety of the population.

Unilateral agreements

Another displaced woman who took the floor affirmed that they do not recognize these agreements made unilaterally at a dialogue table, and at the same time demanded punishment for the criminals of this Autónomo group.

A man who also requested anonymity commented: “We learned on Monday that the priest Heriberto Cruz Vera (ex-parish priest of Tila) was at the negotiation, along with the mayor (Limber Gutiérrez Gómez). It has been a hidden negotiation, not in the presence of the displaced and dispossessed, but it was done in secret and no one knew what it was about.”

He expressed that there should be a dialogue with the compañeros and the legal commissioner; “so that they take us into account, because they have never respected us. We have written to the government, but they have never paid any attention to us.”

In a collective interview, he added: “The condition for the displaced to return is that the rule of law be applied, that the government and the prosecutor’s office guarantee our security so that each one of us who have been dispossessed can return to our homes. That the GN and the Public Security Police enter. Another displaced settler stated that “if it were not for outside institutions that supported us, for the military and those who listened to us,” they would not have left Tila, a Chol municipality in the north of the state.

He added that other people “come to decide for us, and he asked: like who? It is always the cacique (Gutiérrez Gómez, mayor of Tila) who has governed for 30 years.”

“He comes to give us orders. When it is election time he even wants us to kiss his feet; we all go and hug him, but now he does not support us nor does he look at our people to see how they are doing.”

He urged people to join forces and go to the prosecutor’s office to demonstrate because there is freedom of expression and we have the right to protect ourselves.

Another Chol indigenous person lamented that “the situation we are living in the town of Tila is serious. On June 4 the killing began by the Autónomos. They have targeted every person living in the ejido for assassination. They are not only killing these people but also the inhabitants of the eight annexes that make up the ejido.”

One woman maintained that “what happened these days in Tila was not a confrontation; if it had been, we would have had the capacity to respond to them (the Autónomos). They attacked us again.”

She warns that “if we return in these conditions they will expel us again,” so she reiterated her proposal not to return as long as there are no security guarantees, and as long as the “ejido does not want to give us the certainty about the 130 hectares on which the hamlet, our houses, are located. We do not want land.”

Applying the rule of law

He concluded: “The point is non-negotiable: application of the rule of law, which means that there should be a good investigation and that whoever pays, from whatever group, should pay in accordance with the law.”

Official sources informed that the authorities of the three levels will try to dialogue again today with the group of ejidatarios identified as the “Autónomos” in order to establish the conditions for the return of the displaced.

Meanwhile, a judge sentenced to trial six residents of Tila arrested on Saturday for alleged aggravated homicide committed against two people, according to the State Attorney General’s Office.

Original text by Elio Henríquez in La Jornada on June 12th, 2024.
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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