Saturday, October 4, 2008

Six Deaths by Eviction in Chiapas Ejido

They were attacked by state and federal police, according to an ejido representative. Ten wounded and thirty detained reported.

by Elio Henriquez, correspondent for La Jornada
translation and update by Kristin Bricker

Miguel Hidalgo invasionMiguel Hidalgo Ejido, Chiapas. State and federal police shot and murdered six peasants from this ejido [communally owned land] in La Trinitaria county, which for almost a month has controlled the Chinkultic archaeological ruins, located three kilometers from the ejido.

Jose Velazquez, one of the ejido representatives, stated to the press that the incidents that occurred in the ejido late Friday night resulted in over ten wounded and more than thirty people detained who are recovering in a hospital in the city of Comitan.

Blood trails, scatted spent high-caliber casings, and bullet holes could be seen in the streets and in some houses.

"It seemed like the police were on drugs because they indiscriminately beat children, women, and elderly people, and that's not right," said Velazquez.

When the first four cadavers arrived Saturday morning, the families of the dead demanded justice "or we'll take it into our own hands."

The names of the dead peasants are reported to be Ricardo Ramírez Hernández, Ignacio Hernández López, Rigoberto López Vázquez, Alfredo Hernández Ramírez, Miguel Antonio Martínez, and Agustín Alfaro Calvo.

Velazquez said that when faced with the "aggression," the residents detained and disarmed 77 police who had entered the community presumably to detain the local authorities. Six thousand people live in the community.

The community still has the police weapons in its possession.

"They came to attack us without cause, because they were already in discussions to try to resolve the ruins problem" which are located nine kilometers from the Lakes of Montebello, he said.

He noted that the residents of Miguel Hidalgo took over the ruins because the government "has left them abandoned and because it's only right that the resources that come from the operation of the ruins stay with us."

On Saturday there were at least eight police vehicles which were damaged by the peasants who, enraged by the death of their compañeros, went after the agents who fired their weapons, and the agents were later rescued by other officers Friday night.


Update: Notimex reports that the Chiapas Ministry of Justice has ordered about 200 police who participated in the Chinkultic operation to present themselves for toxicology and ballistics tests and tests on their clothing and hands to see if they've recently fired guns. They will also give depositions.

Notimex also reports that of the 22 wounded, 16 of them are police. It reports one disappearance but does not specify if the disappeared person is a police officer or a peasant.

The Ministry of Justice claims that when the townspeople disarmed the police, they then poured gasoline on the police and threatened to light them on fire. It also claims some of the peasants were drunk.

While the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organzation (OCEZ) has a strong presence in the area, the peasants who took over the Chinkultic ruins and the ticket booth at the entrance to the ruins do not seem to belong to any of the numerous Chiapan indigenous peasant organizations.


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