Two campesinos with bullet wounds in the town of Aldama, Chiapas

The National Guard doesn’t intervene
Armed groups shoot at communities from Chenalhó

Photo by Isaac Gúzman

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

After several days of incessant shooting of high-caliber weapons from various points located in the municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, two indigenous men in San Pedro Cotzilnam, municipio Aldama were wounded in the back yesterday (Friday) morning while working in their parcels, according to reports received by La Jornada. The two men are Mario and Juan Pérez Gutiérrez, 22 and 27 respectively. The shooting came from T’elemax in Santa Martha, while groups of armed men “went down to the river.”

Hostilities by the armed civilian groups in Santa Martha against Tabak, Cotzilnam and Coco’ communities started early. A group of the attackers was sighted when crossing the river that separates Chenalhó from disputed lands between the two Tzotzil municipalities in the Highlands (Los Altos).

Just a day earlier, those displaced from Aldama detected at the Tontik Curve “a lot of armed men dressed in black, shouting.” Meanwhile, more armed people arrived who detonated countless shots at the aforementioned communities.

The shooting coming from Chenalhó territory has been almost continuous for weeks. Just from Tuesday to Friday, armed attacks had been registered from Tijera Caridad, Vale’tik and Tontik Saclum (all near Santa Marta, Chenalhó) against the towns of Stzelejpotobtik, Yeton, Tabak, Coco’ and Cotzilnam, in Aldama, where dozens of families are victims of forced displacement for months.

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, a dissident group of Las Abejas and the Undersecretary of the Interior (subsecretario de Gobernación), Alejandro Encinas, signed a “friendly agreement” to allegedly pay off the Mexican State’s material and moral debt for the Acteal Massacre perpetrated by Chenalhó paramilitaries in 1997. Simultaneously, since reality doesn’t know about speeches, “many armed men dressed in black” gathered on Thursday at Tontik Curve to immediately shoot at the aforementioned towns in Aldama.

As has been reported for years, to this day, civilian groups in Chenalhó have not been disarmed, whose aggressiveness increased to the point of acting against the state police in the communities of Tabak and in Santa Martha itself. The inaction of the National Guard deployed in the region stands out. The federal and state governments insist on talking about hostility between both municipalities, although the fact is that the shooting comes from only one side. In addition, the only version that the authorities seem to hear is that of the Chenalhó municipal government and the armed groups that indefensibly present themselves as “victims.”

Finally, after noon yesterday, the one-sided fire from Chenalhó, coming from Tijera Caridad, was aimed at Ch’ayomte’ community (Aldama).

Aldama municipal authorities pointed out that despite agreements signed with the three levels of government, the armed groups in Chenalhó continue attacking their communities. According to the Frayba: “the government continues giving contradictory messages and messages of impunity that encourage violence in the Highlands (Los Altos).”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada on Saturday, September 5, 2020. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/09/05/politica/012n1pol

This English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee has been re-posted by Schools for Chiapas with permission from Chiapas Support Committee.