SIPAZ REPORT

Chiapas: resurgence of conflict between Catholics and Evangelicals in Mitzitón

cgtOn 29 June, inhabitants of the community of Mitzitón, in the municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, announced that the community assembly of this town has taken "the decision to act against the criminals who operate in Mitzitón and who will be subject to the sanctions agreed by our assembly, which are that from this moment they lose any land or community rights and therefore they should leave our area immediately."

They explained: "Our community is divided by external economic interests, which have been harming our forests through the excessive logging of pine trees. And even though we have filed many complaints with the General Prosecutor of Justice of the state, they have not arrested anyone for the crime."

After a community trial, eight people were detained. Inhabitants of Mitzitón destroyed and burned about 25 homes of evangelicals belonging to a group that is known as "The Shrimps", who they identify as logging trees illegally. Afterwards, the group whose houses were destroyed blocked the road from San Cristóbal to Comitán to seek the intervention of the authorities.

On June 30, the police unblocked this road, peacefully evicting nearly 100 indigenous evangelicals, who were demanding the release of their arrested compañeros, after the Catholics handed them over to the State Police.

It should be remembered that since October 2013, the authorities in Mitzitón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, have not recognised the land rights of 23 families allegedly engaged in illegal logging.

The evangelical pastor Esdras Alonso González, leader of the grouping Wings of the Eagle, said in an interview with La Jornada that the families whose homes were destroyed have received more than three million pesos from the previous government since 2011 to relocate to another location, but their leaders "kept the money".

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General of Justice of the State reported that it "issued an arrest warrant against seven" people from Mitzitón accused of kidnapping, for events that occurred on September 11, 2013 in the same area. Another of the detainees was released.

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Chiapas: Presentation of the Special Report: "Torture, mechanism of terror"

Press Conference, June 25, 2014 @ SIPAZ

imgp8639On June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was commemorated. In this context, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (CDHFBC) presented the Special Report on Torture in Chiapas: Torture, mechanism of Terror.

Relatives of victims, psychologists and specialised experts in the investigation of torture took part in the presentation, along with members of CDHFBC. Gabriel García Salyano noted that torture is a systematic and systemic event, since it has been naturalized in everyday life. He said that he sought a testimony from someone; he asked whether they had been tortured and they replied, "no, they just beat me a little," making reference to the normalisation of violence.

Jorge Hernández, member of CDHFBC, said that "there is no justification for the practice of torture." And he added that "torture occurs frequently in Mexico, it is a method of police investigation, of control, of terror; a product of the violence engendered by the political system; exerted by those from the government who represent power."

The Special Report has recorded 17 events where at least one act of torture was performed. The towns where these acts were recorded are: Tuxtla Gutiérrez (6), Tapachula (2), Chenalhó (2) and one case each in Simojovel, Maravilla Tenejapa, Arriaga, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Palenque, Sabanilla and Acala.

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Chiapas Congress approves electoral reform. It establishes gender equality, but with exceptions.

Chiapas State Congress (@ chiapas.gob.mx)

Chiapas State Congress (@ chiapas.gob.mx)

On June 30, the Chiapas State Congress approved, by a majority, reforms and additions to the Code of Elections and Citizen Participation. Such changes allow the approval, at a state level, of the federal political and electoral reform.

The most controversial points include that of gender equality for candidates for elected office, but the reform allows for the rule to be dispensed with: if the candidate comes from a democratic process of internal election within a party, it is possible not to respect equality.

As part of the discussion, the president of the Commission on Gender Equality of the state Congress, Alejandra Soriano Ruíz (Party of the Democratic Revolution, PRD) asked the lawmakers to remove this exception, but the proposal was rejected. Congresswoman Rosa Alma Siman (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) said in reply that women in Chiapas do not want to participate in politics, and that there are not enough women interested to ensure gender equality.

The delegate of the National Electoral Institute (INE) in Chiapas, Edgar Arias, announced that he will promote the challenging of these reforms before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) explaining that "on the subject of gender they should retain an exception to the constitutional obligation of parties to observe equality when nominating candidates."

As for other changes, it is worth mentioning that campaign times were shortened in comparison with the times proposed at a federal level. For the governor it will be 63 days and for Congress and municipal government, 33 days.

Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 06/07/2014

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