Members of the small town of Tila in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas have accused municipal authorities of harassing local residents as part of a plan to rob more than 320 acres of the communal land from the community, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported Tuesday.
According to community representatives, Tila residents have suffered attempted land grabs for decades as municipal officials have tried to convert the collectively-owned indigenous territories into private land to be bought and sold, La Jornada reported.
Community activists in the local Tila Ejido Supporters of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, a Zapatista declaration of revolutionary movements’ vision for Mexico, have already slammed municipal officials for abusing their power to repress and control indigenous communities.
“In Chiapas, reports of re-start of Peace and Justice paramilitaries.”
In a recent statement, activists accused Edgar Leopoldo Gomez, president of the Tila municipality, of supporting the resurgence of the Peace and Justice paramilitary group, which was responsible for killing 122 indigenous people and displacing 4,000 between 1995 and 2000.
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Tila residents also marched earlier this month to protest municipal officials after many activists received threats and suffered other arbitrary action by authorities.
Agressions against the community have included an incident of security forces opening fire on local residents on Dec. 20, injuring several people.
“Police shot at a Ch’ol Indigenous resident (Dec. 20) in Tila, Chiapas after recording him.”
Community members say that paramilitary presence that all but disappeared in the area has resurfaced in recent months in the form of roadblocks that harass residents.
In the face of such threats and suspicions that local politicians are deliberately acting against the community, Tila residents have taken action to try to expel municipal officials, including municipal President Gomez, La Jornada reported.
Community members say they simply want to live in peace, free to make their decisions using their own customary methods free of harassment from authorities.