“The Different Faces of Dispossession” Campaign



The reason behind the Campaign “The Difference Faces of Dispossession” is that governments and national and international investors are determined to commercialize the Land and Territory of Native Peoples.

These same Peoples are today confronting dispossession from indigenous communities that refuse to be accomplices in investment projects that prioritize the production of biofuels, the concession and exploitation of mining projects, dams, the reactivation of the Mesoamerica Project’s infrastructure plans, and energy reform as a platform on which to legalize territorial looting and pillaging. All of this brings with it the destruction of the human and biological diversity of their ancestral lands.

The different faces of dispossession are framed in the government policies that, over the course of the last few decades, have commercialized the natural resources of Native Peoples’ lands in Chiapas. These policies are all part of the long-standing refusal of the Mexican State to fully recognize the collective rights of indigenous Peoples.

Forced displacement in Chiapas

One of these Faces is the situation of internal displacement in Chiapas, which is due to systematic territorial dispossession, and in which the Mexican government is one of the most consistent violators of human rights.

For several years community defense projects have been constructed to demand justice – the restitution of their lands and territories. The repsonse from the Mexican government has been unsatisfactory.

The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign’s first stage begins by exposing the forced displacement resulting from three events in the indigenous communities of: 1) Viejo Velasco, in the municipality of Ocosingo; 2) Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa; and 3) San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón. The causes of these human rights violations are related to the Armed Internal Conflict in Chiapas.

  • The first event is related to a paramilitary-type action which, along with the actions of Chiapas government officials, casused the Viejo Velasco Massacre of November 13, 2006. The results were six extrajudicial executions, two forced disappearances, and the forced displacement of 36 people: 20 men, eight women, five boys, and three girls.
  • The second event ocurred in the community of Banavil. Here, because members of this community were Zapatista sympathizers, they were attacked by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with the complicity of the municipal authorities of Tenejapa. The result was the forced disappearance of one person and the forced displacement of four families who, since December 4th 2001, continue to live in a situation of vulnerability.
  • The third event ocurred in the community of San Marcos Avilés, with attacks at the hands of members of the following major political parties: Mexico Green Party (PVM), National Action Party (PAN), and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Along with the municipal government of Chilón, they perpetrated a systematic attack against a project for autonomy being built by the Support Bases for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (BAEZLN). On September 9th, 2010, this culminated in 170 people being forcibly displaced: 50 women, 43 men, and 77 boys and girls. Currently they remain displaced from their arable lands.

These events of forced internal displacement have one factor in common: they are caused by the widespread violence generated by the effects of the unresolved Armed Internal Conflict. The displaced individuals were never attended to under the legal category of internally displaced persons, the issue of justice was never addressed, and this situation of total impunity is preventing them from returning to their communities. Because of this, their safety, personal physical integrity, and lives remain at extreme risk. The Mexican state permanently violates international human rights instruments, and likewise fails to observe the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles -UN).

The majority of the displaced population is made up of women, girls, and boys […], displacement disproportionately affects women. Therefore they are in a situation of greater vulnerability because, in addition to being displaced, they face the historical domination through which they live due to their gender, ethnicity, age, and social status.


Federal and state governments have demonstrated in administration after administration their contempt for Mexico’s indigenous Peoples. They are currently deepening their policies of dispossession in order to cleanse the land to facilitate the implementation of strategic projects that necessarily imply the disappearance of social, political, and cultural forms of organization carried out by communities and peoples that are the very source of human diversity.


¿Why this Campaign?


The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign aims at promoting human rights in Chiapas through social advocacy. It aims to capture the attention of civil society in Mexico as well as other parts of the world. This includes men, women, collectives, organizations, movements, organizational processes, groups that know about and/or are interested in the situation of risk and impunity that daily affects the indigenous communities of Chiapas. These communities are facing displacement and their ancestral territories are being affected by various infrastructure projects.

With The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign, we hope to generate movement and public acts of solidarity on a national and international level that identify and make visible those responsible for human rights violations. We hope that these actions assert pressure and demand that the Mexican government fulfill its obligations.



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