Paramilitaries of Chenalho fire on Tsotsil communities of Aldama

Photo: Luis Aguilar/Frayba

By the editorial office of Desinformémonos

Mexico City — Since Monday morning, there have been new armed attacks reported against the Tsotsil communities of Xuxchen, Cocó and Tabac, in the municipality of Aldama, Chiapas, by the paramilitaries of Santa Martha, in the neighboring municipality of Chenalhó.

Adolfo López Gómez, mayor of Aldama, stated that no injuries were reported from this morning’s attacks, coming from Oxch’om, Slumka, Yocventana, Saclum and Tok’oy, “belonging to the Santa Martha sector.”

On the morning of October 28th, another armed attack by the Santa Martha paramilitary group was also recorded, “from the place called Templo, against the town of Stzelejpotobtic, Aldama,” and at night the shots came “from T’ulvits, Valetik and Tok’oy, all from the Santa Martha sector.

The armed attacks against the Tsotsiles communities of Aldama are part of the violence derived from an agrarian conflict between the municipality and the ejido of Santa Martha, Chenalhó, which has been disputing 60 hectares for 45 years.

Without any intervention by the authorities, the violence has led to the dispossession of the Tsotsil communities and the forced displacement of thousands of indigenous people.

Various organizations and collectives, such as the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, have demanded that the Mexican State promptly and adequately investigate the attacks, as well as sanction, disarm, and dismantle the armed civilian groups of a paramilitary nature in Chenalhó, “directly responsible for the attacks that have caused forced displacement in the Altos de Chiapas region.”

With information from La Jornada below.

Three communities of Aldama report aggressions with firearms

By Elio Henriquez

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas — Aldolfo López Gómez, mayor of Aldama,  reported that on Monday morning, residents of Santa Martha, municipality of  Chenalhó, attacked three communities with firearms on Monday morning, without reporting any injuries, in the context of the dispute over land that both sides claim. 

“Reports of aggressions of firearms shots against the communities of Xuxchen, Cocó, and Tabac are being received; since the morning they are being attacked with shots of different calibers from Oxch’om, Slumka Yocventana, Sacrum y Tok’oy all of which belong to the Santa Martha Sector,” said the message sent by mobile phone. 

It added that the “morning of this last October 28th, residents of Santa Martha fired shots from the place called Templo, against the township of Stezelejpotobtic, Aldama.”

It affirmed that that night there was a second “assault with some gunshots fired from Túlvits, Valetik and Tok’oy, all from the Santa Martha sector against various communities of Aldama.”

Meanwhile, the secretary of government of Chiapas, Ismael Brito Mazariegos, affirmed that there are important advances to resolve the conflict between Aldama and the Santa Martha ejido, in the municipality of Chenalho, that for 45 years have disputed 60 hectares. 

“We are doing very well. Chenalahó presented us with a definite agreement that we proposed,” he added in an interview granted last Thursday.

It was mentioned to him that in said proposal, the authorities of Chenalhó requested the transfer of  50 million pesos and placed other conditions in order to put an end to the conflict; and in asking if it  is feasible to give them that amount or if is can be negotiated, he responded: 

“There is no money. I told them, don’t worry about money because there is none, but what there is  is attention from your government to channel the arrangements that you have and in this we are working. To give an example: the paving of a road for all of which, we are happy to have the support of the federal government and of Chiapas, in favor of a solution so that you can live better. That was the response.”

— Is the proposal being analyzed?

— It was already accepted on the part of Chenalhó, it remains for Aldama to determine some points of view. 

Interviewed about the issue, the Undersecretary of Human Rights, Migration, and Population of the Secretary of the Interior (Office of Governor), Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez stated that same day that “we are working with the state government a program in order to see an intervention with the federal government, with the purpose of resolving the underlying problem and the insecurity, to look at the problems of social inequality, and to return them to conditions of tranquility.”

He affirmed that it is moving forward with the agreements between the communities and that we hope that in the next few days, we’ll be reporting concrete progress. 

The conflict between Aldama and Santa Martha for the dispute of 60 hectares has left 26 dead and several injured by bullets from both communities. In the recent months, there have been mutual denunciations of attacks.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Desinformémonos and La Jornada on November 3rd and 2nd, 2020, respectively. https://desinformemonos.org/paramilitares-de-chenalho-disparan-contra-comunidades-tsotsiles-de-aldama/

www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/politica/2020/11/02/reportan-agresiones-con-arma-de-fuego-a-tres-comunidades-de-aldama

This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.