Inhabitants of Nueva Palestina Demand Help in the Face of the Invasion of the Underworld

In view of the dispute between two organized crime groups that are trying to control the community of Nueva Palestina, municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, thousands of locals took to the streets yesterday to demand that the three levels of government send security forces. Photo: La Jornada

Approximately 3,000 residents of the community of Nueva Palestina, municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, marched yesterday to demand the presence of security forces because members of organized crime, who are disputing the territory, are trying to charge small businesses with “derecho de piso” (extortion to continue operating).

At the same time, authorities of the town, located in the Lacandon jungle, sent a letter to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to ask him to protect the town by land and air, as we are being threatened by organized crime.

During the demonstration, which concluded in the central plaza, the Tseltales affirmed that they marched to reclaim their rights “to life, tranquility and peace.”

“Andrés Manuel López Obrador: we still believe in you. Send us the Army, the Navy, the federal forces, the National Guard; send them to New Palestine, they demanded.”

With a horn placed on a vehicle at the front of the march, they warned: “If the government does not act, the people are also organizing to take care of themselves.”

They pointed out that members of the Sinaloa cartel are extorting them and asked: “What right of piso, if we are farmers and ranchers? We are peaceful and hard-working people.” Then they chanted: “Out with the Sinaloa cartel! Out with organized crime! Yes to the Army! We want order, peace and tranquility! On their placards they read messages such as: No more smugglers in Nueva Palestina, no more cartels, and we denounce the collection of money by criminals.”

They claimed that at the San Javier intersection, located seven kilometers from Nueva Palestina, members of the Sinaloa cartel are positioned, operating alongside the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Extortionists announce they will take over the community

Authorities commented that on Tuesday “about 16 hired killers arrived in two white vans. They entered the offices of the ejidal police station armed, wanting to kill us. Then they left. They are angry because we did not give them permission to charge the small businesses.”

They explained that they forced the door and entered. They told them that they were going to “work in an orderly manner without disrespecting anyone”, that they were “only” going to charge a “floor fee.”

They slapped the rural policeman who was recording them, snatched his phone and erased the contents. They warned that they would enter the community “because it was their right.”

In the letter addressed to the President they recounted what happened on September 5 and added that the individuals arrived to inform them that they would take control of the town and the region that day. Later they surrounded the house of the president of the commission, but fortunately they retreated.

They stated: “We are a peaceful people and we confirm that we are willing to receive the troops of the Mexican Army and the police, to whom we urgently request their actions with flyovers and by land.

The local leaders confirmed that they were alerted that an armed group “that calls itself the Sinaloa Cartel of El Mayo Zambada is surrounding the town,” the reason for which they insisted on requesting the government’s prompt intervention.

Other sources said that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has control of the San Javier intersection, a key point in the Lacandon community, and is charging a toll. The driver of a sugar truck had the letters CJNG engraved on his back because he refused to pay them.

An anonymous letter circulated in recent days states that in the last two months the inhabitants of the San Javier crossing have been threatened by self-proclaimed members of the Jalisco cartel, who are charging all the truck drivers and migrants who pass through. There have already been violent encounters and people marked on their skin with the initials CJNG.

This article was posted in La Jornada on September 8, 2023.
English translation by Schools for Chiapas

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