Terror in Tila: City Hall and Organized Crime

#Chiapas: State and federal forces face rejection by members of the Ejidatarios or Autónomos.

In the face of the terror unleashed in Tila in recent days, the media have focused on blaming an alleged criminal group that they call “the autonomous ones,” surprisingly, without offering any historical context or mentioning the growing violence that has been experienced in Tila in recent years. In this coverage, no mention is made of the long struggle of the ejidatarios to recover the 130 hectares illegally occupied by the municipality; the long denounced complicity of the municipality with the organized crime group “Karma” and its link to the brutal paramilitary group “Paz y Justicia,” which in the 1990s caused so many deaths; the multiple aggressions by this group in recent times, culminating in the assassination of two former ejido authorities, Carmen López Lugo and Domingo Lugo Ramírez, members of the National Indigenous Congress, in January and March of this year.

(To understand the context, read the excellent analysis Paramilitarism and Organized Crime: The War against the Ejido Tila).

Such coverage contributes to the destruction of the autonomy, so carefully constructed, and the illegal return of the municipality, linked both to the paramilitarism of the 1990s and to its contemporary narco-paramilitary version through the “Karma” group. The words of President Lopez Obrador in his morning conference, stating that it is a dispute between the same settlers “who have not been able to harmonize,” raises the suspicion of complicity by the federal government with the municipality and its links with organized crime, and its determination to destroy any attempt at autonomy by the organized peoples.Faced with such an avalanche of misinformation, the ejidatarios adhering to the National Indigenous Congress published a communiqué, which we reproduce below.

Ejido Tila, Chiapas on June 11, 2024

To public opinion
To national and international non-governmental organizations
To the national and international media
To the native peoples in defense of land, territory and life
To the National Indigenous Congress
To the Indigenous Council of Government

Please receive our greetings from the organized ejido families that form part of the National Indigenous Congress. We want to raise our voice to denounce what is happening in our Ejido Tila because we have been denouncing the criminal group Karma that is supported by the Municipal Council and has been acting with impunity because they have been killing ejidatarios, among them our compañeros Carmen López Lugo on January 12 and Domingo Lugo Ramírez on March 14, who were first singled out and then executed with impunity.That is why when last Tuesday, June 4, the delinquent group Karma showed up armed with high caliber weapons and provoked those who are currently ejido authorities and who could no longer keep the peace, the people responded to all that they have been doing. 

These last few weeks have been a time of pain and terror in Ejido Tila. After insistently denouncing the entry of organized crime into our territory, the murders of compañeros and threats, we are now in a scenario of forced displacement, death and threats to our survival as a Ch’ol People. (See also Saucedo, Dante. “Paramilitarism and organized crime: the war against the Tila Ejido.” 

Este País, January 25, 2024, https://estepais.com/tendencias_y_opiniones/guerra-contra-el-ejido-tila/.

We wish to make a strong statement in recognition of the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples that various people of the Ejido Tila have made. In this communication we highlight and recognize the work in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples that they have made over the years.

The struggle of these comrades has been developed mainly through peaceful and legal means. Several of them have held ejidal positions, some have maintained historical leaderships that have guided the path of the Ejido Tila; they have always taught us the legal and political defense of the rights to self-determination and autonomy, to territory and to full access to justice.

We clarify that those of us who belong to the CNI and have been ejidal authorities since 2008 have always kept calm in the assembly so as not to fall into provocations, although there have been many provocations. We are human rights defenders of our land and territory and that is how we have been building ejidal autonomy since December 16 when the city council was expelled from the ejidal territory because we have won the amparo and its non-execution won in the Supreme Court of Justice. That is why we continue to demand the full restitution of the 130 hectares that are ejidal territory and which was already determined. 

All these past years we have denounced all the impunity of the city council, but since they are supported by the government, they were able to continue provoking the big problem that has been caused today. You can see it in all the denouncements we have made but the bad government never paid attention to stop their groups because they wanted to cause a disgrace like the one they have already caused in order to find the pretext to return to the ejido territory.

We denounce the media coverage that speaks of “the autonomous” as criminals, because autonomy is a right that we have exercised in accordance with the constitutional framework and in light of the legal uncertainty in which the Federal Judiciary has kept us.

All the authorities that have recently intervened in the territory occupied by the Ejido should know this information and avoid any damage to their security, freedom, personal integrity and even their lives.


Adherents to the National Indigenous Congress

Land and Liberty

Ejido Tila Chiapas

The entirety of this piece was published by Radio Zapatista on June 12th, 2024.
Photo by Isaín Mandujano.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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