Those from Below: Violence against the communities is not in quarantine

By Gloria Muñoz Ramirez

Repression, harassment and threats against peoples and communities are not known to ever be quarantined or at a safe distance. These weeks, while the focus remains on the health emergency of Covid-19 and on calls to stay home, the bosses, criminal and paramilitary groups, among other violent actors, are very far from being kept at bay.

In Jalisco, for example, municipal authorities and mob bosses from Villa Guerrero ordered violent attacks against members of the Wixárika and Tepehuana autonomous community of San Lorenzo de Azqueltán, according to a complaint by the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Government Council (CNI-CIG).

And in Chiapas, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center reports that armed aggressions by paramilitary groups have intensified against Tzotzil communities in the municipality of Aldama who continue in conditions of forced displacement, a circumstance that makes them even more vulnerable in the face of Covid-19.

And following the chain of violence against communities and Earth defenders, on March 23rd, environmentalist Isaac Medardo Herrera, defender of the Los Venados nature reserve and legal representative of 13 towns in defense of the Chihuahuita spring, was murdered in Juitepec, Morelos.

Another defender murdered in these days was Paulina Gómez Palacio Escudero, who accompanied the Wixárika people in their fight against the mines, and in defense of Wirikuta. Paulina was found dead in the municipality of El Salvador, Zacatecas, on March 22.

And as if that weren’t enough, while the people are protecting themselves from the world’s virus, in Mexico, with expressions of jubilation from its promoters in Congress, the law for the Promotion and Protection of Corn was approved. As Ramón Vera-Herrera, of the Network in Defense of Corn, warns, it does not prohibit GMOs, it promotes the privatization of native seeds and wants us to believe that with traditional crop reserves in a sea of unspecified crops, we can now cancel the fight for GMO-free corn.

Surely, it is time not to move in the streets. And not to be silent, because it is clear that for the people there is no truce.

This article was first published in Spanish in La Jornada on the 28th of March, 2020. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/03/28/opinion/016o1pol?fbclid=IwAR3odvmmJkhNQ4U0_tQlwK8nqCyMo9kxcUCD_4_vvhbKb_-L99InJFU6m9Y. This English interpretation has been published by Schools for Chiapas.

The series of translations that follow detail some of the further abuses of power during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned.