A Mexican paramilitary group that killed or forcibly disappeared 122 indigenous people between 1995 and 2000 is on the rise again in the southern state of Chiapas with suspected links to local politicians, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported Monday.
In a statement, activists in Chiapas accused Edgar Leopoldo Gomez, president of the Tila municipality, of supporting “in his service” the resurgence of the Peace and Justice paramilitary group with the goal of “controlling” local indigenous residents.
The statement was issued by the Tila Ejido Supporters of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, a Zapatista declaration of revolutionary movements’ vision for Mexico.
“In Chiapas, reports of re-start of Peace and Justice paramilitaries.”
The group also accused other Tila municipal officials of supporting the rise in paramilitary activity.
Aside from being behind the deaths or disappearances of over 120 indigenous people, the Peace and Justice paramilitary group also has forcibly displaced some 4,000 Ch’ol and Tzeltal indigenous residents in northern Chiapas.
According to the activists’ statement, paramilitary perpetrators of historical human rights abuses have long enjoyed impunity for their crimes.
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The group accused municipal officials of wanting to bring back the “blood and fire” of paramilitary activity in support of local officials’ interests and of using municipal communication resources to organize the Peace and Justice group.
The accusations come after Tila residents marched earlier this month to protest municipal officials after many activists received threats and suffered arbitrary action by authorities, La Jornada reported.
The statement also comes after hundreds of indigenous people held a demonstration last week in the small Chiapas village of Acteal to mark the 18th anniversary of the slaughter of 45 people including pregnant women and children. Activists and survivors have labelled the massacre a “state-sanctioned crime” and accused the government of supporting the paramilitary group behind the attack.
“18 years ago, death came to Acteal.”
According to the local human rights organization known as Frayba, which focuses on the rights of Indigenous communities in Chiapas, paramilitary violence toward indigenous people in the region has been part of low-scale warfare between the Mexican military and the EZLN or Zapatista resistance movement.
Tila residents fear an armed paramilitary attack against their community, according to the activists’ statement.
The group accused different levels of government in Mexico of “hiding behind” paramilitary groups that carry out their dirty work.
Tila residents also called upon all social organizations to be watchful for what could happen in Chiapas in the face of the paramilitary resurgence.
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