37 Tsotsil families from Chenalhó leave their homes due to threats from criminal group

Elio Henríquez.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chis. At least 37 Tsotsil families from the community of Tzanembolon, municipality of Chenalhó, took refuge in the local school, due to death threats by armed men linked to the group of Los Herrera, residents of the area reported.

Residents of the town of Tzanembolon, municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, were accompanied yesterday by members of the Army to take food out of their homes and move to neighboring communities, after being threatened by the alleged criminal gang Los Herrera.

They explained that the residents went from their homes to the school on Sunday, after the gunmen cut the electricity to six families at 11:00 am.

They said that those affected returned to their homes yesterday, accompanied by elements of the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) to get food.

They were only able to take a little food and go back to the school, because there are no conditions for them to stay in their homes, since they have no electricity, they said. Some things had already been stolen from their homes.

The locals consulted said that on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. a man climbed one of the poles of the Federal Electricity Commission to cut the electricity, while other armed men protected him.

Faced with the death threats and the power cut, the families left their homes and went to the school, others moved to neighboring communities, they said.

The aggressors live in the area known as Fracción Tzanembolon, and the threatened families live in Tzanembolon Centro, they said.

For this reason, the displaced people complain that the government does nothing to protect them, given that Sedena forces are stationed in the area. They also blamed the three levels of government for whatever happens to the residents of the community.

The majority of the families want to go to the capital of Chenalhó, but they are afraid that they will be attacked on the way. If they leave, it would have to be with the accompaniment of an authority, they commented.

Los Herrera maintained dominion over Pantelhó for two decades, until July 21, 2021, when the self-defense groups of the town of El Machete broke in and expelled them.

Since then, El Machete has had control of the municipality, but Los Herrera intend to regain it, so they allied to attack the inhabitants of Tzanembolon, adjacent to Pantelhó and close to the town of San José Tercero, the self-defense groups’ stronghold.

In their attempt to regroup, Los Herrrera integrated deserters from El Machete, such as Gilberto Perez Gomez, known as Comandante Tigre, who were murdered on June 2 in Polho (Chenalho), along with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and three-year-old grandson, as well as two bodyguards.

Original text and photo published in La Jornada on March 19th, 2024.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Tsotsil families are forcibly displaced from Chenalhó, fleeing from violence.

by Ángeles Mariscal

The municipalities of Pantelhó and Chenalhó have been the scene of a dispute between armed groups, one linked to organized crime and the other to the self-defense movement, which has left dozens of people murdered, among them several children and adolescents.

In the community of Tzanembolom, located in Chenalho, in the indigenous zone of Los Altos de Chiapas, at least a dozen families, including some 30 children, left their community this Sunday at noon, after armed persons threatened them with death and cut off their electricity and water services.

This community is in the hands of a group that calls itself “Los Tigrillos,” who are part of a large structure of people accused of engaging in illicit activities in the municipalities of San Juan Chamula, Pantelhó and Chenalhó.

On March 6, federal police and elements of the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) attempted to enter this town, through an operation by land and by road in which some 200 troops participated; however, they were confronted by the armed groups.

This Sunday morning, armed individuals climbed the light poles to cut the cables that carry electricity to the families who have refused to participate in the armed actions against the self-defense group called El Machete.

They also cut their water hoses and threatened to kill them. “They said that if we don’t participate (against Los Machetes), then we are enemies,” said one of the indigenous people, who asked for help from humanitarian organizations.

Faced with the threats, they took out some of their belongings, put them in sacks and headed, on foot, to the municipal capital of Chenalhó, in search of a place to take shelter. This is the second time that they have been forced to leave the community, due to the threats against them.

Tzanembolom -located between the borders of Pantelhó and Chenalhó- became the center of operation of these armed groups. On February 8, young people from that community showed photos with weapons, money and vehicles that allegedly one of the drug cartels had given them.

The two municipalities, Pantelhó and Chenalhó, have been involved in confrontations between armed groups linked to organized crime and those linked to the self-defense groups, which have left dozens of people murdered, including two minors in the community of La Piedad, just on March 12.

Original article published in Chiapas Paralelo on March 17th, 2024.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Want to receive our weekly blog digest in your inbox?

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top