The Massacre of Viejo Velasco

Far from justice for the massacre, disappearances and forced displacement, impunity persists.

Photo: Frayba

Lacandon jungle, Chiapas, Mexico November 13, 2022.

Joint Pronouncement

16 years of impunity for the Viejo Velasco massacre, municipality of Ocosingo, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas

  • Sixteen years after the Viejo Velasco massacre, the Mexican government maintains total impunity for the forced displacement of 36 people, most of them women and children; the extrajudicial execution of six of them (including a pregnant woman); the illegal detention and torture of a disabled woman; and two forced disappearances of elderly people. 
  • Far from justice, this is another case of serious violation of the most basic individual and collective human rights, fueled by the lack of institutional response.

The massacre occurred in the small indigenous Tseltal and Ch’ol community of Viejo Velasco, municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, Selva Lacandona, when, in a paramilitary-style operation, around 40 people from the communities of Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab (all from the so-called “Lacandona Community”) armed with machetes, sticks, shotguns and rifles, some with military and public security uniforms, violently entered the community. 

According to investigations carried out by CDLI-XI’NICH’, supported by the collective of civil society organizations that made up the CIVIL OBSERVATION MISSION, the aggressors were accompanied and protected by 300 elements of the then Sector Police of Chiapas, carrying high-powered weapons known as “cuerno de chivo” (goat horn): Ar-15 and AK-47. Also documented was the presence of five prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, two experts, the Selva Zone Regional Commander of the then State Investigation Agency with seven elements under his command, and a representative of the former Secretary of Social Development.

These violent acts resulted in the forced displacement of 36 people, most of them women and children; the extrajudicial execution of six of them (including a pregnant woman, María Núñez González); the illegal deprivation of liberty and torture of a young disabled woman, Petrona Núñez González, who died in 2010 as a result of physical and emotional torture; and four disappearances; the illegal detention and torture of a young disabled woman, Petrona Núñez González, who died in 2010 as a result of the physical and emotional torture she was subjected to, and four forced disappearances, of which, a year later, at the request of family members and members of the Civil Mission, the remains of two people were found buried in a place near Viejo Velasco, identified as two of the missing elders, Miguel Moreno Montejo and Pedro Núñez Pérez, who were handed over to their families four years later.

Sixteen years after the massacre of our indigenous Tseltal and Ch’oles brothers and sisters, justice has not been served. The survivors and relatives of the victims continue without guarantees for their return and without reparations. 

During all this time, the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Chiapas (FGE) has failed to carry out a complete and effective investigation of these events, while the federal government and the CNDH have remained totally silent on the matter, so that those intellectually responsible, the political operators and the material perpetrators continue in impunity.

The FGE never had an investigation plan and for years has ceased the search for Antonio Peñate López and Mariano Pérez Guzmán, elders who disappeared in these events and, after the release from prison of the indigenous comrade Diego Arcos, an indigenous health promoter, the other five indigenous comrades who, at the time, gave aid to the victims of the massacre continue to be criminalized, and who to this day –after 16 years– are still under arrest warrants, accused of murdering their own comrades.

It should be noted that this bloody massacre took place in the context of an intense struggle and resistance, claiming the right to territory, and to the protection and management of natural resources, of more than 45 indigenous communities, settled in the heart of the Lacandon Jungle; Resistance of which the Assembly and inhabitants of Viejo Velasco were a worthy example, confronted with an aggressive policy of territorial eviction, social dispossession and privatization of nature by the Mexican State, exercised over these villages, located within and on the limits of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, one of the richest areas in biodiversity, water, forest cover and with a strong scenic and tourist attraction in our country.

On this 16th anniversary of the unpunished massacre of Viejo Velasco, the XINICH organization remembers and commemorates the compañeros and compañeras who were assassinated in this massacre, reiterating that they are alive in our memory and in the collective memory of the peoples who resist and struggle; it is they who push us every day to continue fighting for autonomy, for the defense of territory, for our Mother Earth and for an Other Justice.

No  to the plunder of our territory and of Mother Earth


Viejo Velasco is not forgotten!

Signed by:

Familiares de víctimas y víctimas sobrevivientes de la masacre de Viejo Velasco

Coordinadora de la Organización Social XINICH


Organizaciones acompañantes:

Comité de Defensa de las Libertades Indígenas (CDLI) XINICH

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (Frayba)

Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste A. C. (MPS)

Salud y Desarrollo Comunitario (SADEC)

Casa de la Mujer Ixim Antsetic A. C.

Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos Los Derechos Para Todas y Todos”

Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas A.C.

Comité Nacional para la Defensa y Conservación de Los Chimalapas

Comunidades de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Santísima Trinidad

Organización Sociedad Civil Las Abejas de Acteal

This pronouncement was published by Frayba on November 12, 2022. English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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