Fifteen families have been forceably displaced from their homes and land in the community of Puebla in Chenalho. The families have been violently attacked, had their houses burnt down by local paramilitary groups. Despite numerous attempts to seek a peaceful resolution they have received no protection of support from local authorities. Left with no other option the families have sought refuge in the community of Acteal. Statements from Las Abejas say that they actions of the Government resemble those in 1997 leading up to the massacre of 45 women and children in Acteal. For more information please read the statement issued by Las Abejas below;
Fifteen families from the communities of Colony Baptist Catholic and Puebla seek refuge in Acteal as a result of counterinsurgency warfare.
To the public
To the media, local, national and international
To alternative media
To the sixth international
To the adhesives of La Otra Campaña
To the independent organisations
To the nongovernmental human rights defenders
Brothers and Sisters,
It has been four months since the beginning of the land disputes relating to land owned by the Catholic Church. Despite public complaints from the Catholic the community of Colony, the St. Peter Parish Council Chenalhó and Las Abejas, 15 families have been forcibly displaced from their land and homes.
Today the 26th of August 2013 we were received by the Holy land of Acteal. We are 95 people from 15 families of the colony Baptist Puebla, we are victims of forced displacement and impunity which has been created and paid for by the corrupt Government of Mexico.
Prior to the displacement, our brothers and sisters of St. Peter Parish Council Chenalhó did everything possible to seek a just and peaceful solution to the conflict over the land in Puebla Catholic colony. However rather than administering justice the authorities of the colony in complicity with Chenalhó City Council and the government of Chiapas through the Mexican Army initiated warfare and granted impunity to the perpetrators. In the same way as Ernesto Zedillo , Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro and Jacinto Arias Cruz, federal, state and municipal levels, were granted impunity for the slaughter of Acteal .
Today a corrupt Government commission which is made up of government delegates from the Human Rights Commission, Civil Protection and the municipal secretary of Chenalhó and accompanied by people who have been identified as collaborators arrived to take photos of the displaced families. The government commission claim to have come to ‘accompany’ and provide ‘protection’ to the families. We responded to the government commission’s presence by asking them ‘how can you claim to provide support and protection to these families if you have been complicit in their forced displacement?’
Why do we say that the evil government of Chiapas and Chenalhó, are complicit in the violence and forced displacement of our brothers and sisters Catholics and Baptists ?
Our brothers and sisters along with the Parish Council of St. Peter Chenalhó , appeared before the City Council of Chenalhó and to the government of Chiapas to initiate a dialogue and find a peaceful solution to the dispute. Despite the efforts and willingness the evangelical pastor Agustin Cruz, would not accept his mistake and instead accused our brothers and sisters of being the provocateurs.
When we heard the rationale of the pastor Augustine Cruz we realized that reason, truth and justice were not favoured and what they were doing was accusing their fellow Catholics of poisoning the community’s water supply. The pastor’s group Agustín Cruz , beat and threatened to burn our brothers and sisters with gasoline. Three of our brothers who were accused of poisoning the water and were transferred and detained in the Office of Indigenous Justice without any proof of the crime. The Pastor’s group believed that through inventing a crime they could deceive the community however judicial authorities conducted tests on the water and proved that it was in fact not poisoned. Although the accusations were proven to be false the people of Agustin Cruz would not accept his error and threatened to kill the men if they ever returned to the community.
Fearing for their safety the men remained in San Cristobal for 30 days after which they decided to return on August 20th, despite threats from the Agustín Cruz group. They could not imagine what was waiting for them when they returned; they were met by a group of aggressive young people who began throwing rocks at them. Car full of delegates from the government of Chiapas and state police passed but did nothing to help the men. When our brothers and sisters saw that they were not safe to return to their community they returned to San Cristobal de Las Casas , Chiapas.
Later that day the same group of young people burned down two of the families homes. The families were very distressed and asked for help however the local government did nothing to assist them.
The following day the group assaults continued, it was then that the pastor of St. Peter Chenalhó Manuel Perez Gomez came with a government representative and trustee of Chenalhó Andres Vazquez Gomez to see what the situation was in Puebla. When the group of young evangelicals saw the three catholic men speaking to the pastor of Chenalho they later found the men, detained them and beat them for more than five hours.
After the burning of houses, the pastor’s arrest, threats and attacks intensified the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas issued several urgent actions demanding the Mexican Government ensure the safety of the Catholic and Baptist families. The Mexican government did nothing.
Brothers and sisters, as we outlines in our statement on August 22 we have seen a revival of the paramilitary presence in Chenalhó in colonial Puebla specifically. This forced displacement is part of the counterinsurgency war designed by the Mexican government led by President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León who lead of the slaughter of Acteal.
The Mexican Government should be held responsible for the forced displacement of our brothers and sisters, for their failure to intervene and bring justice to the community of Puebla This forced displacement have been our brothers and sisters. Despite our bothers declaration of abuses and violence committed by the paramilitaries in Puebla to the Office of Indigenous Justice in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas , Chiapas the judicial authorities and the government have done nothing. We denounce the Judicial authorities, we denounce the corrupt Mexican Government for their actions that resemble those that took place in 1997 in the Acteal Massacre.
Brothers and sisters around the world to witness that here in Chiapas , here in Chenalhó , here in Acteal , death lurks , now through young evangelicals and official authorities who encourage violence and impunity. We want to make it clear that the authorities of the ejido Puebla, Chenalhó City Council , the government of Chiapas and Mexico , are the main perpetrators and violators of human rights of our brothers and sisters of the ejido Puebla.
The Voice of the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas