Rights Organisations Agree: Chiapas Paramilitaries, Unpunished

At least seven paramilitary groups remain active
in Chiapas and about 200 members or ex-members of these organizations are free, although several
indigenous communities have denounced them for
having commited manifold crimes: murders,
kidnappings, tortures, robberies, sackings, threats, among others.

At least seven paramilitary groups remain active
in Chiapas and about 200 members or ex-members of these organizations are free, although several
indigenous communities have denounced them for
having commited manifold crimes: murders,
kidnappings, tortures, robberies, sackings, threats, among others.


A report by Onécimo Hidalgo, investigator of the
Economic and Political Research center of
Communitary Action (CIEPAC), indicates that the
apparent withdrawl of the Army from Chiapas and
the electoral defeat of the PRI in August, last
year – when Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía won the
governorship – has caused the "resetting and
repositioning" of these groups, some of which
have had splits or changed their abbreviations,
but – he affirms . remain active.


He is listing:


Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice):
Operates in the municipalities of Tila, Sabanilla,
Tumbalá, Palenque and Salto de Agua. However, this
organization split up in March of the last year.
The Union of Agricultural and Forestal Indigenous
Communities (Unión de Comunidades Indígenas
Agropecuarias y Forestales – UCIAF) took over the
municipality of Tumbalá and some parts of
Sabanilla, Tila and Yajalón, while the group that
kept the original name of Peace and Justice
remains in Tila, Sabanilla and Palenque.


Alianza San Bartolomé de los Llanos:
Operates in the municipality of Venustiano
Carranza. PRI-affiliated group, indicated as
responsible for 34 deaths and four disappearances.
Formed as an assault group in alliance with cattle
dealers of the Orantes family, one of whose
members is Eucario Orantes, an ex-federal deputy
of the PRI.


Movimiento Indígena Revolucionario
Antizapatista (MIRA):
Indigenous Revolutionary
Antizapatist Movement. Operates mainly in the
municipality of Oxchuc, but has extended its
activities to the communities of San Jerónimo
Tujilá, municipality of Chilón, and into some
communities of Ocosingo. After the defeat of the
PRI, it changed his name and now calls itself
Organization of Indigenous and Campesino Workers
(Organización de Pueblos Trabajadores Indígenas y
Campesinos (OPTIC)).


Los Chinchulines: Active in the
municipality of El Chilón. Today they call
themselves Union of the Ejidatarios of Bachajón.
They work under the cover of the CROC and since
its birth, in 1998, they received the support of
the ex- interim governor of Chiapas, Elmar
Zeltzer.


Los Plátanos: Concentrated in the
municipality of El Bosque. Until December 1998 the
group was formed from 80 young PRI-affiliated
Tzotziles, who received training from the police
of the state and the Army.


Group of Chenalhó: They do not have a
name or abbreviation to identify them, although
several denunciations identified them as part of
the group "Primera Fuerza (First Force)"
and others as part of the "Máscara Roja (Red
Mask)". They are PRI affiliated and operate
mainly in the Yabteclum communities, Los Chorros
and Puebla, in the municipality of Chenalhó. This
group is attributed with the slaughter of Acteal
in 1997, in which 45 people were assassinated.


Lack of will


According to the investigations of Onécimo
Santiago, so far this year the presence of
paramilitary groups has been registered in at
least six occasions. All of them were denounced by
the respective indigenous communities.


According to Armando del Río Leal, Public
prosecutor of the Specialized Unit for Crimes
Committed by Probably Armed Civil Groups, 56
previous inquiries against people pertaining to
those groups have been integrated.


Nevertheless, Jose Montero, coordinator of the
legal area of the Human Rights Centre Fray
Bartholomé de las Casas, indicated that, as far as
the Fox government was concerned, "none of
the paramilitaries have been charged".


Last week, the Network of Communitarian Human
Rights Defenders, the non governmental
organization Global Exchange and the CIEPAC, gave
the Proceso a list of 200 people accused by
diverse communities to belong to
"paramilitary groups" and to perpetrate
diverse crimes: from murder, kidnapping and
tortures to robbery and threats.


"All these people are free, have not been
investigated, although there are hundreds of
letters and testimonies incriminating them",
Ernesto Ledezma, director of the Chiapas Program
of Global Exchange, commented.


In his report, Onécimo Hidalgo agrees:
"Although a special office exists to take
care of the subject of the armed groups, nothing
has been done against them, and the operatives do
not demonstrate a real will to deactivate
them".


He explains: "If the PGR has the disposition
to silence these groups, it would have to carry
out a disarmament process, the seizure of uniforms
and communication radios and the dismantling of
the infrastructure on which these groups are
operating, as well as sanction the municipal
authorities and civil employees that have
protected and covered them".


He continues: "The de-paramilitarization
won’t be solved by merely arresting the leaders,
if the resources giving them power remain intact:
the arms and the official protection. Enough to
mention, that 83 people were jailed for the Acteal
massacre, but 10.500 Indigenas of Chenalhó remain
displaced, because they have no guarantees to
return without being harassed by these
groups".


According to the last annual report of the Fray
Bartholomé de las Casas centre, between 1995 and
the year 2000, the paramilitary groups have been
responsible for the murder of 122 people and the
disappearance of other 21. They are also
responsible for the unavoidable displacement of 21
thousand people.

Author: Homero Campa (trans.by Dana)

News Service: Proceso 20/08/01

URL: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html