FrayBa: The President of the Republic “Lies and Elevates Violence in Chiapas”

Statement from Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

23 de junio de 2024

  • The federal government is complicit in the violence in the state and the aggressions against the peoples and communities.

From the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), we express our concern and lament the defamation against Civil Society and Human Rights organizations in Chiapas made today in his morning conference by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). His statements undermine our work in the midst of a profound violence that has worsened in recent years in the state, and that continues to escalate, consolidating itself as a structural element in the territories of the peoples of the Highlands, and Coast, the serious violence on the Southern Border, North and Jungle regions of the State. This has had an impact on the peoples, several of whom are indigenous and historical communities that organize themselves peacefully and defensively to the policies of the Mexican State in the midst of a diversification and opacity of armed groups, organized crime groups, all of whom are successors of paramilitarism that use violence for social, political, economic, and territorial control, marked by the continuity of a generalized violence and counterinsurgency strategy. [1]

AMLO’s denial of this violence deepens the impunity promoted by municipal, state and federal actors that contribute to dispossession, exploitation and social marginalization, in addition to exacerbating the human rights crisis in which we find ourselves. In particular it promotes the systematic attacks against the political project of autonomy of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), led by corporatist armed groups, who have perpetrated more than 110 armed attacks from 2019 to date against communities belonging to the Zapatista region of Moises and Gandhi, which belongs to the Good Government Council New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity, of Caracol 10 Flourishing the Rebel Seed, Patria Nueva, within the official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico.

These attacks have included the burning of schools and coffee warehouses, armed aggressions, torture, kidnappings and serious injuries with firearms, which have been denounced by the Zapatista peoples and documented by Frayba, in addition to carrying out interventions with the authorities of the state and federal governments, to whom we have made emphatic calls to respect and guarantee the life and physical and psychological integrity of the peoples and communities that belong to the Region of Moses and Gandhi. The governments have been negligent, at the same time that the armed group acts with total impunity continuing with the aggressions before the ominous silence of the institutions of the Mexican government.

It should be added that the members of these corporatist armed groups are part of the governmental structure of the municipality of Ocosingo for the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, they obtain resources from social programs such as Sembrando Vida; whose implementation in the Chiapas territory has generated conflicts and tensions, confronting those who fight for control from the right to autonomy and self-determination and those who seek access to land resources from state control and territorial reconfiguration, with a land management, alien to the needs of indigenous peoples.

We remind the Mexican government that in Chiapas we are in the midst of an unresolved political-military conflict, and that the lands and territories of the peoples, who continue to be made invisible, are still awaiting the respect due them, which is framed both in terms of the rights enshrined in international treaties and declarations, as well as stipulated in the San Andres Accords. For this reason, the causes that led to the uprising of the EZLN continue to be valid.

This statement by Frayba published on June 23rd, 2023.
La Jornada reported that the Network All Rights for All (Red Todos Derechos Para Todos) joined in the
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Below is a report from AMLO’s morning press conference on June 23rd, 2023.

AMLO Rejects That Aggressions Against the EZLN Come from the Government

Emir Olivares Alonso, Envoy
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas 

AMLO tells in his morning press conference that National Guard is handling the problems that have arisen in Chiapas.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asserted that even though aggressions against Zapatista communities are not generalized, his government is working to achieve peace and tranquility. Despite the differences he said he has with the movement, he recognized the contributions of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) to the country.

The President emphasized that as supreme commander of the armed forces he will never give the order to massacre the people or to torture people and violate human rights, therefore there is no repression.

He added that differences persist in the communities, because they know well the history, how when a movement to vindicate the rights of the indigenous peoples arose, the authoritarian State promoted the creation of groups to confront those who fought for the vindication of the indigenous peoples, and this does not disappear overnight.

During his conference yesterday, which was held in the Seventh Military Region located in the capital of Chiapas, he said: we are going to help in everything we can to achieve peace, because we may or may not agree with the Zapatista movement, but there is no doubt that at its time it was a light, a ray of hope, it was a wake-up call to turn to see the dispossessed, the poor; you can’t begrudge them that, and the rest is something else.Regarding the denunciations that human rights organizations have made about attacks on Zapatista support base communities – the most recent raised over three days (from June 19 to 22) with shots and burning plots of land by members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao) in the Moisés Gandhi region, municipality of Lucio Cabañas, the president said that little by little peace has been restored in those places through social programs of his government, such as Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life).

-Who is attacking the Zapatista communities? -he insisted.

-No, no, in general there have been no aggressions. There are some cases, but it is not a deliberate action, an attack. There are problems with former adversaries that were created, even within the organization itself, but it is not a widespread, serious matter, and we do not wish for it.

He assured that his administration is attending to the conflicts in Frontera Comalapa, Chenalhó and other parts of the state.

“But in general, there is peace, there is tranquility in Chiapas. And a very illustrative example is that of Ocosingo. We see that we don’t have many problems there, as far as confrontations in the communities. There are issues that we regret very much, sometimes there is confrontation between groups, but we are attending to them. The National Guard is there and we are looking for dialogue, for agreements to be reached, for there to be no repression and we are moving forward.”

López Obrador pointed out that there are leaders of human rights organizations “who do not look favorably on us. That is clear! Let us not forget that when we were fighting for change, those organizations opposed us, they called for a no vote. And it was legitimate for them to think that the only alternative was the armed way, that the peaceful way would not be possible. And they considered that we were false, they even questioned us very strongly. So, they have not changed in that.”

He even made this comparison: “It’s like the case of the reactionaries, the conservatives, they do not want to accept that there is a new reality. That’s why sometimes the extremes touch each other. They don’t want to accept that there is already a change. That’s why there are these complaints (of aggressions).”

He stressed that as a result of the Zapatista movement, having a social organization in Chiapas became a “way of life,” to the extent that there were as many as rice, the vast majority with financing that did not reach the people, including from the United States government.

He criticized that while he demanded that the king of Spain apologize for the abuses during the Colonial Era, some Zapatista leaders who made a tour of that country questioned who he was to demand and ask for an apology. “But now, as the song goes, what happened, happened.”

(With information from Alonso Urrutia)

Original text in La Jornada, Saturday, June 24, 2023
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee and reposted with permission here.

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