The Inaction of the Mexican State Deepens the Violence in the Highlands of Chiapas

Women and children displaced from Chenalhó by armed threats. Photo: Frayba

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México
October 5th 2022
Bulletin No. 31

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) condemns the acts of violence occurring in the Fracción Santa Martha, municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas. According to various sources of information, the confrontations began on September 29, 2022; to date, approximately 129 people have been confirmed as internally displaced (32 families), and are sheltered in the community of Polhó, in the same municipality. Among them are at least 36 children and adolescents in a highly vulnerable situation. In addition to this, approximately six houses were burned and destroyed; at the moment we do not have precise data regarding the number of people injured and killed.

From Frayba we have pointed out the responsibility of the Mexican State in the negligence and continued impunity with respect to the actions of armed groups in the region of the Highlands of Chiapas that threaten, murder and displace the inhabitants, which constitutes a continuous and manifold violation of human rights, including access to an adequate standard of living, freedom of movement, freedom of residence, housing, health, education, employment, and a family life. 

In various areas of Chiapas there is a crisis of violence, with various civilian actors using armed force as a mechanism for political, territorial and economic control. From 2011 to date, we have documented 40 conflicts where weapons have become the central resource — in 33 of these cases high caliber weapons were used. Half of these events took place in the Highlands of Chiapas, particularly in the municipalities of Chenalhó, San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Oxchuc.

The actors are diverse, ranging from successors of dynasties of paramilitary leaders who give continuity to the strategy of counterinsurgency, in combination with armed groups linked to organized crime and common delinquency, as well as corporatist social organizations linked to the State. In addition, we must also add the militarization of public security in the territories through the presence of the National Guard.

The social decomposition we are witnessing today stems from the unresolved political-military conflict, the absence of effective institutional mechanisms for the resolution of social conflicts, the existence of an illicit arms market, historical impunity and the direct promotion of these dynamics of violence by both local and state authorities.

The violence in these territories is extremely dramatic, as it has touched the community structures causing deep and permanent fractures, this because of the mechanisms of terror that are growing, so it is urgent to deactivate the violence and rebuild the social fabric with the participation of the population that resists these criminal actions.

For this reason, we demand that the Mexican State adopt comprehensive measures to prevent the causes of forced internal displacement in the region, as well as to guarantee the protection and security of the affected people to enjoy a life of dignity and peace, in addition to initiating a diligent investigation into the actions of the armed groups in order to dismantle and disarm them.

This statement was published on October 5th, 2022 by Frayba Human Rights Center. Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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