Simón Pedro, Indigenous Leader Assassinated in Chiapas, Evidenced the Progression of Criminal Violence

Photo: Frayba

By Ángeles Mariscal

However, he left a seed of hope, commitment, action and struggle through peaceful means, according to the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), in a report that recounts the context of his assassination, which took place on July 5, 2021.

Two weeks before his murder, Simón Pedro Pérez López was sought out by residents of the municipality of Pantelhó, so that he could give them guidance on how they could overcome the onslaught they had been suffering for years at the hands of armed groups that were leaving a toll of murders, disappearances, displacements, and trafficking in drugs, alcohol and weapons.

Catechist of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas, general coordinator of the Children’s Symposium, member of the board of directors of Las Abejas de Acteal, Simón Pedro’s philosophy of a pacifist life led him to accompany the community authorities of Pantelhó to a meeting with members of the Secretariat of Government of the state of Chiapas, to ask for their intervention.

At that meeting they spoke about the situation not only in the communities of Pantelhó, but also in the neighboring communities of Simojovel and Chenalhó, all of which were under siege by armed groups linked to organized crime that controlled the region.

A few days after that meeting, he was murdered with a shot to the head; after the murder, his community, Nuevo Israelita, located in the neighboring municipality of Simojovel, continued to be harassed by organized crime, which left him two bombs that had to be deactivated by the Mexican Army.

For Frayba, the murder of Simón Pedro and the situation in municipalities such as Pantelhó, and the indigenous zone of the Chiapas highlands is evidence of the political violence that has as its backdrop the paramilitary groups of the nineties, which have now transmuted into organized crime cells; in addition to the high levels of corruption and impunity in the State.

However, the report focuses on the teachings, legacies and struggles that Simón Pedro has faced; how his home, religious and organizational communities, as well as his family, have struggled to break through the fear, share their stories, their strengths and their hopes as part of his quest for justice. “The family has decided to restructure their lives, without denying the traumatic event, the context of violence and thus project an immediate future.”

“On December 31, 2020, Simon granted an interview to share what The Board of Directors of Las Abejas is and what it means to be a member of The Board of Directors. That day he was handing over the position to the new Board representatives.

“The religious part has been fundamental in facing this violent event and has pushed them to continue their work as servants of the church, seeking peace and community reconciliation,” they point out.

This Tuesday, one year after his murder, members of different parishes of the Diocese of San Cristobal and Las Abejas de Acteal will hold public demonstrations to vindicate the struggle for life and justice through peaceful means.

Photo: Frayba

Here you can read the complete report “Blessed are those who work for justice… Simón Pedro: a testimony of accompanying the people in search of Peace.”

This article was published in Chiapas Paralelo on July 5th, 2022. English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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