Murdered peasants recovered and hostages exchanged after days of dispute in Venustiano Carranza

By Isaín Mandujano

Twenty-four hours after the ambush, with the mediation of officials from the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the Ministry of the Interior, the bodies of two peasants were rescued on Wednesday, members of  the Emiliano Zapata – Casa del Pueblo Campesino Organization who were shot by members of the San Bartolomé de Los Llanos Alliance in the Tierra Blanca property, municipality of Venustiano Carranza.

This afternoon, after deploying a strong police operation, the National Guard, agents from the State Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, members of the CNDH and the commission of the Interior for dialogue with the indigenous peoples, arrived at the stretch where yesterday members of the Alianza ambushed the community members of the Casa del Pueblo, in the area known as Tierra Blanca.

Finally, the members of the OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo were able to collect the bodies of their two compañeros, Efraín Espinosa Pérez and Mario Alberto Vázquez Aguilar.

In tears, their wives and children received the bodies that had been exposed for 24 hours in the area where they died after being ambushed by the San Bartolomé de Los Llanos Alliance.

To be able to gain access to this section and ask for the release of four of their compañeros who were captured by the San Bartolomé de Los Llanos Alliance, the community members of the Casa del Pueblo handed over Corazón Vives Ruiz and Elías Vázquez Gómez, whom they had been holding since April 25 when the clashes between the two groups began.

OCEZ – Casa del Pueblo requested the intervention of the UN Human Rights agenda and that of the International Red Cross Committee “so that, within their mandate, they may intervene against the Chiapas government, which has been accused of supporting the paramilitary group Alianza San Bartolomé de Los Llanos, and whose actions have been negligent and omissive in addressing thesocial conflict in this municipality and in guaranteeing the life, security and integrity of the inhabitants.”

The Casa del Pueblo accuses the Alianza San Bartolomé de Los Llanos of being a paramilitary group whose main headquarters is in the Paraíso de Grijalva community, from where they operate with weapons exclusively used by the army, “supported by other groups of hired assassins, the group known as the sugar cane growers’ self-defense group financed by the region’s cacique Jesús Alejo Orantes Ruiz.”

They indicated that the two murdered together along with other campesinos “were advancing in their work, when a low-flying helicopter passed over the area where the work was being done, and after the helicopter withdrew, the compañeros finished their work and looked for a place to rest and eat at the point called Tierra Blanca where they were surprised and attacked out of cowardice by these assassins at opposing points (north and south), said those from the Casa del Pueblo.

Murdered campesinos are recovered and hostages exchanged after three days of dispute in Venustiano Carranza.

Angel Ramirez Martinez, Commissioner of the Communal Property of the OCEZ Casa del Pueblo, said that the dispute has been going on since hundreds of community members of the Casa del Pueblo expelled in the eighties were granted 11,143 hectares of land as Alianza San Bartolome de Los Llanos; until then everything was going well, however, as this group grew, they began to advance and take more land than they had been assigned and accepted,  a total of 19,000 hectares.

Because of this, on April 25, they began to demarcate the lands and demanded that they withdraw to their territory, but they refused to do so.

The leader of the OCEZ-Carranza Region, José Manuel Martínez Hernández, alias El Chema, an old founding leader of the OCEZ Casa del Pueblo, stated that his organization joined the movement and demanded action against the Alianza because it is a paramilitary group, whose leaders are ex-military.

“We demand of the government the punishment of those materially and intellectually responsible and the dismantling of this paramilitary group,”

El Chema

In this context, Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, a native of the municipality where the agrarian dispute took place, called on the peoples and communities of Chiapas to favor dialogue, rapprochement and reason to resolve any problems or differences, as well as to avoid confrontations, violence, bitterness and bad blood between brothers and sisters.

After the violent events in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, by the peasant organizations Casa del Pueblo and Alianza San Bartolomé de los Llanos, the official reported  that competent authorities are conducting investigations so that this unfortunate event does not go unpunished, and explained that the federal, state and municipal authorities are working together with the objective of resolving this long-standing conflict in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law.

He stressed that the confrontations and road blockades do not contribute to reconciliation and the establishment of a relationship of respect; on the contrary, they deepen the discomfort, because in addition to affecting the population, especially the most vulnerable sectors, they delay the progress, development and well-being of families, both in Venustiano Carranza and in the municipalities of the region.

Exchange of hostages.

This article was published in Chiapas Paralelo on May 5th 2021. English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas.

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