Chenalhó under siege

5 octubre, 2022

An armed group made up of approximately 60 people took over territories belonging to the community of Atzamiló, in Chenhalhó, Chiapas. Locals say the group has killed at least four people.

Text by Ángeles Mariscal, originally published October 3, 2022 by Chiapas Paralelo.

Photo: Chiapas Paralelo, archive, August 2022.

CHIAPAS— An armed group made up of approximately 60 people from Santa Martha, Chenalhó, has occupied the community of Atzamiló since Thursday, September 29. Both communities are part of the same ejido. At least four people have been killed, according to residents. 

Residents of Santa Martha decided to sign a peace and disarmament agreement, leding them to expulse members of the armed group that was occupying the neighboring municipality of Aldama. 

According to residents of Santa Martha, the group lowered the level of aggression against Aldama, but it has continued to threaten those who removed it, and it continues to use force to take over various houses and territories.

It is in this context that on Thursday, September 29, at around 10 am, members of the armed group arrived in territories that are part of the community of Atzamiló and took over an area used for harvest. Jesús Jiménez Velasco, who is the head of the Ejido of Santa Martha, arrived in the area after the invasion was reported. He was attacked by the armed group, but was not injured.

The armed group also shot at residents, and burned houses and land in use for farming. Family members of an elder named Juan Antonio Pérez said that Pérez and a youth were killed by gunfire. They also said that Pérez’s wife and grandchildren had to flee to nearby mountains. 

In a phone interview, Jiménez Velasco said that he fled the area after the attack, out of fear he would be killed. “I left my community out of fear,” he said. Before he left, he reported the death of a farmer and two others from gunshot wounds.

Later that day, around 8pm, residents of Atzamiló reported seeing a helicopter belonging to the state of Chiapas flying over the area, which was also shot at by members of the armed group.

On Friday, a day into the occupation, residents of Atzamiló managed to establish a connection and report that some of them were hidden in the mountains, because the armed group, which they say numbers around 60 people, has taken control of their community, as well as the roads in and out of their community and of Santa Martha, which is a few kilometers away. They said four people had been killed, and that others were injured.

Residents noted the access roads are blocked by the aggressors, and that the authorities of the government of Chiapas and the National Guard have not been able to enter the area.

“This group wants to keep attacking, they are the same ones that attack Aldama [Chiapas]. They want more violence, and we are saying no and that’s why they are attacking us now. We are urging the police to come, there are people who are injured and who have been killed by shooting,” said one resident of Santa Martha, who was able to escape to the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas.

The Attorney General of Chiapas (FGE) announced it opened an investigation into the homicide of Alfredo “N,” “after the events in Santa Martha, municipality of Chenalhó, on the afternoon of September 29, 2022.” The FGE has not made a statement on the aggressions reported after the first homicide.

This article was written by Chiapas Paralelo, a member of the media alliance of the Red de Periodistas de a Pie. You can read the original here.

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