Narcos Control Merchandise, Services and even Life on the Chiapas Border

Signs of narco violence litter the landscape in Chiapas.
Organized crime has taken control of merchandise, services, people, legal and illegal products, as well as the lives of the local population, according to various reports.

Mexico City, May 16th (SinEmbargo).- In another episode of escalation of violence, the communities located on the border of the state of Chiapas with Guatemala have been left incommunicado as a result of the struggle between the Sinaloa Cartel and the the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), criminal groups that according to various testimonies have appropriated electricity, telephone, water and even food services.

This Monday, an armed group entered the Nueva Morelia community, in this border region, to execute 11 people, of which the majority were farmers or civilians. Although in the first instance the figure of 12 deaths was reported, moments later the State Attorney General’s Office confirmed that there were 11 victims.

This is the most recent episode of violence that occurs in Chiapas, which has been going on for at least three years in the midst of the clashes that members of the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels have been fighting since last Friday on the borders of Chicomuselo Frontera Comalapa.

Since last December, press reports reported how the inhabitants of this region were forced by organized crime to join their ranks. At that time, it was reported that in the municipalities of La Grandeza and Bella Vista, the Sinaloa Cartel cut off water, electricity and internet services, as a way to pressure residents to join their ranks. Those affected even assured that this organization had a detailed list of the families that reside there with which they threaten them.

The dispute between the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG has been going on for around three years, with serious repercussions among the population of the southern border of Chiapas, who daily suffer threats, physical violence, forced recruitment, internal displacement, control of economic activities and fear, due to the submission of these organized crime groups.

In January, various civil organizations that work in the area published the report “Siege on daily life, terror for the control of territory and serious violations of human rights,” which warned that “the border of Chiapas with Guatemala has been going through an unrecognized armed conflict based on the territorial dispute between organized crime structures for the control of goods, services, people, legal and illegal products, as well as the lives of the local population since approximately 2021.

“The control, interruption and cancellation of social services and institutions also works as a measure of pressure on the population to collaborate with criminal structures, being an important persuasive strategy by sometimes including the financing of many of these activities,” highlights this report prepared by the Southern Border Monitoring Collective, the Guatemala – Mexico Cross-Border Coordination Table for Migration and Gender (MTMG) and the TDT Network.

The document points out how “organized crime has been inserted in health services, garbage collection, government administrative units, food supply, education at different levels, construction and maintenance of communication routes, recreational, religious and community festivities of different kinds. The control of these institutions is, however, ambivalent, and depending on the group and the state of the conflict in the area, it can range from cooptation, financing and express obligation of what functions, or cancellation and absolute abandonment.’’

The Frayba Center stated in its report “Chiapas, a Disaster” that authorities at three levels of government were already aware of these attacks; “as well as other events such as cuts to water services, attempts at expulsion and territorial dispossession.”

Dora Roblero, director of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights, explained in this sense to the newspaper El País that “at least since 2021 the population of these towns remains kidnapped. What the people we were able to speak with tell us is that these criminal structures control their electricity, telephone and even food services because by having access roads closed, businesses are running out of food supplies.”

“The Aurrera supermarket in Frontera Comalapa closed because it no longer has access to food. Therefore, the population has to look for where to find these foods. It has to be done at the moments when they open the way, and that is when the criminal structures decide,” Roblero declared.

Since last September and despite the presence of the Mexican Army in various areas of the south of that entity, violence in the region intensified, after blockades were recorded by alleged members of organized crime, which caused the shortage of various essential products, including gasoline and tortillas, in several communities on the border and mountains of Chiapas.

According to testimonies recorded by the newspaper La Jornada, members of the Sinaloa Cartel were responsible for maintaining the blockades, both on the Pan-American Highway and the road near the municipality of Motozintla, to prevent basic goods from reaching Comalapa, where there were cells from the CJNG.

This also caused the municipality of Frontera Comalapa to remain incommunicado. The municipalities of Chicomuselo, Amatenango de la Frontera, Motozintla and Mazapa de Madero were in the same situation, where basic food items such as tortillas, eggs, beans, as well as gasoline, were in short supply for several days.

Given the blockades and the lack of basic supplies, school authorities in region 025, which includes the Sierra Madre of Chiapas and the southern border, also decided to suspend classes, as a measure to protect the integrity of students and teachers, as school supervisor Celerino Nolasco Alvarado made it known through a statement.

The report “Siege of daily life, terror for the control of the territory and serious violations of human rights” highlights in this sense how these cartels have co-opted transporters, taxi drivers and motorcycle taxi drivers, market vendors, tortilla sellers, street vendors and ejidal authorities. “These sectors reflect the interest of criminal structures in controlling the different unions. In this way, there is a demobilization of peasant social organizations, formal and informal commerce, worker unions and transport groups, as they have all been pressured to be part of this homogenization and leaders and spokespersons have been monopolized through threats and pressure.”

Original article by Nora Nancy Gaspar Resendiz at SinEmbargo, May 16th, 2024
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.
Photo by Isabel Mateos, Cuartoscuro.

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