There are dark hands and tourism interests behind the arrest of the ejidatarios from Bachajón Desinformémonos
It is not the first time that the municipal police of Chilón, under orders from the Mayor, have criminalized and harassed the defenders of territory, says their lawyer a few hours after the ruling on the legal status of the Tseltales.
UPDATE: JUDGE ISSUES FORMAL ORDER OF IMPRISONMENT AGAINST THREE EJIDATARIOS AND RECLASSIFIES THE CRIME OF WOUNDING TO A MORE SERIOUS ONE: ATTEMPTED MURDER.
The lawyer defending the Tzeltales, Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, described the incident as “shameful actions of the judge, completely subjected to the interests of the executive,” since it relied on the “illegal” evidence of the prosecution.
Mexico, DF. Behind the arrest of three ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón –accused of wounding a municipal policeman from Chilón, Chiapas, is not only the hand of the municipal president, Rafael Guirao Aguilar, but also the interests of the state and federal governments in handing over the community land to private tourism companies, the defender Ricardo Lagunes Gasca believes, within a few hours of reaching the constitutional deadline for the trial judge to rule on the possible release of the detainees.
Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández were arrested on September 16, as they walked towards their community, by the municipal police of Chilón. According to the public denunciation by the ejidatarios of Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatistas, the Tseltales were tortured by Rodolfo Gómez Gutiérrez, officer from the Public Ministry assigned to the Special Prosecutor for Indigenous Justice based in Ocosingo, so they would sign an incriminating confession. The defence lawyer for the Tseltales indicates that the police accuser was injured, but that this was during the patriotic celebrations in the county seat.
Inhabitants of Bachajón noted that the detention may be in revenge for the imprisonment of Sebastián Méndez Hernández, an officer of the aforementioned police, who is accused of killing Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano (a regional coordinator of the Sixth in Bachajón) on 21 March 2014. The murdered man came from Virgen de Dolores, a community founded in 2010 by the ejidatarios on recuperated land. The murder suspect was handed over to the authorities by a group of ejidatarios from Bachajón, and a friend and neighbour of his was recognized by detainees as part of the group that attacked them.
The detainees spent nine hours in the hands of police, who had to deliver them to the nearest public ministry, located a maximum of an hour away. On September 19th, the joint mixed trial judge of Ocosingo, Omar Heleria Reyes, requested bail of 300,000 pesos for each detainee to obtain release, which, according to their lawyer, is unconstitutional because it is disproportionate to the economic situation of indigenous prisoners and allowed no possibility of access to the benefit (bail).
Lagunes Gasca points out that it is not the first time that the municipal police from Chilón have acted with such “impunity” with the intention of retaliating against people from Bachajón. He recalled that officers from the same force arrested the murdered Juan Vázquez Guzmán in 2011; he was released the same day for lack of evidence against him. He added that the municipal president of Chilón, a member of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) is indicated as a supplier of arms to the paramilitary group Los Chinchulines and is very close to the Governor Manuel Velasco Coello.
“Compañero Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano,” said the ejidatarios in a communiqué on March 23, “is part of the foundation and construction of autonomy in the Virgen de Dolores community, his participation and his work for the organization and the community will never be forgotten because we carry it in our hearts… Since we founded the communities of Nah Choj and Virgen de Dolores in 2010, our organization has been harassed at various times by the army and state preventive police, threatening us with eviction.”
The ejidatarios the bad government of wanting to ” finish us off completely by assassinating our compañeros, using their paramilitary gunmen, who with complete impunity, whether by night or in the full light of day, are capable of vilely murdering our compañeros who are working and struggling to construct a world in which other worlds fit.”
Founded in 1980 by the original Tseltal inhabitants, the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón is in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, in southeastern Mexico. The ejido, one of the largest in Mexico, has 70 hectares in an area of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity, where the waterfalls of Agua Azul are situated. The state and federal governments plan to build a large tourist complex, which is why the ejidatarios adherent to the Sixth started their resistance.
On March 19, 2007, many of the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón declared themselves adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, an initiative promoted by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). They decided to exercise their right to self-determination over their lands and resources as original peoples, and built a toll booth on their territory, where tourists pay for their visit to the waterfalls of Agua Azul. The booth became a focal point for conflict.
On several occasions, the ejidatarios denounced the eviction of the booth and the attempted imposition of political parties allied to the authorities. In this context, Juan Vázquez Guzmán – spokesperson for the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón -was murdered with six shots at the door of his home on April 24, 2013, in what was widely interpreted as a political assassination. The material and intellectual murderers remain unpunished.