San Cristóbal de las Casas, December 15, 2017
Since the end of October, in the area of the Highlands of Chiapas, the conflict over the territorial limits between the municipalities of Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó, without solution for 45 years, has been reactivated with unprecedented violence.
Gunshots, burned houses, groups of hooded civilians carrying high power weapons have sown terror in the area, causing the displacement of more than 5,000 people, including newborns, children, pregnant women and the elderly. In addition, the main road leading to Chalchihuitán was cut with the opening of a ditch preventing the passage of any vehicle and generating a shortage of food, water, medicines and gasoline.
The number of deaths is increasing day by day because of the impact of bullets and following the development of diseases due to cold weather, malnutrition and dehydration. Meanwhile diabetes and psychosomatic diseases increase due to permanent fear experienced by displaced people. To date, 9 people have lost their lives. Among the dead are 4 children, a newborn and a pregnant woman.
On December 13, the Unitary Agrarian Court of District No. 03 issued a ruling that came to cancel the record of conformity of boundaries of August 6, 1976. It ordered the restitution of 365 hectares of land of the municipality of Chalchihuitán to Chenalhó. It established that compensation will be paid to the peasants who will lose their lands and homes in Chalchihuitán. In addition, the authorities committed themselves to build 300 houses for those affected in January. However, it is feared that this decision will not solve the situation of the victims’ current displacement and that they will become permanent displaced persons. From now until the beginning of January they are at least 15 days more without housing for the victims. We fear that not all victims will be compensated and that 300 houses will not be enough for all the people who will not be able to return. At the moment, nothing guarantees them that they will receive such compensation or housing.
For its part, the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas demanded that the law against armed groups in Chiapas should be applied. In effect, although a sentence on the agrarian conflict was issued, no decision was made for the punishment of the armed groups that have kept the population in a situation of forced displacement for more than 58 days.
The right to life, to peace, to health, to medical care, to food, to housing, not to be deprived of one’s property, to free transit, to protection, to security, to education, not to be subjected to inhuman treatment are ones of the many rights that Mexico has committed to guarantee ratifying the following declarations, treaties and international conventions that are being violated today:
As SIPAZ (International Service for Peace), we express our high concern about the human rights violations that are occurring within the framework of the reactivation of this agrarian conflict. By taking in mind that there still is a high risk for the life, security and integrity of the affected inhabitants of the two municipalities, we would like to invite the national and international civil society to keep an eye on the events and to pronounce themselves so that the human rights that are being violated at this time will be respected.
We also invite you to read the Urgent Action issued by numerous civil society organizations including SIPAZ on November 21, 2017 and to sign the corresponding petition.