Organized crime uses war strategies in Chiapas, human rights defenders denounce

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Human Rights defending organizations demand the government to recognize the conflict and assume its responsibility to address the violence in Chiapas.

Forced to dig trenches, set up checkpoints, hand over their belongings, show their phones, their messages, keep quiet, ask for permission even to officiate a religious service, serve as servants, or be sexually abused, this is how the population of the mountain-border areas of Chiapas lives.

The people are trapped in the territorial dispute between organized crime groups, documented by a network of civil society organizations.

In a report released this Tuesday, the defenders pointed out that the criminal groups use strategies and mechanisms that, according to the legal framework of International Humanitarian Law, have the characteristics of a Non-International Armed Conflict.

The document is signed by the National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations All Rights for All, All and Todes (Red TDT), the Cross-Border Coordination Table on Migration and Gender Guatemala Mexico (MTMG) and the Collective of Monitoring South Border.

They emphasize that the situation in which more than half a million inhabitants of at least 12 Chiapas municipalities live is aggravated because the facts have been repeatedly denied by the Mexican government, in particular by the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and by the governor of Chiapas, Rutilio Escandón Cadena.

The report entitled “Siege to everyday life, terror for the control of the territory and serious violations of human rights”, details that the organized crime groups operate despite the fact that the armed forces of the Mexican government have a strong presence in the region.

According to testimonies of the affected population, the military have acted in a complicit or negligent way in favor of these groups.

The document breaks down the features of complicity and consent of the government structures, such as the military, the state prosecutor’s office, police forces and officials, to the criminal forces.

“Such is the degree of insertion, that in some municipal capitals it has been reported that the entire town hall is within criminal structures and that they are at their service”, says one of the settlers who participated in the report.

The humanitarian organizations detail that the Mexican State has ethical and legal responsibilities, and the refusal to protect the civilian population from the attacks of the organized armed groups could lead it to respond before international courts.

For this reason, they ask the international community to carry out a verification mission in the affected municipalities, with the purpose of urging the Mexican authorities to assume their responsibilities in the guarantee and protection of human rights in the area.

The report also explains that in the face of this situation, despite the threats and murders, the civilian population has taken to the streets, has made public calls for help asking for the intervention of the authorities, such as the march for peace that took place in January 2023.

However, the humanitarian organizations also recognize that as survival strategies to avoid being tortured or killed, settlers have been forced to participate in violent actions, to serve as vigilantes or hitmen.

This, they add, is causing the fragmentation of community ties by distrusting their own neighbors, in addition to important psychosocial effects, mainly stress and paranoia.

Due to this situation, the organizations asked the government again to recognize that in Chiapas there is a situation of armed conflict that requires humanitarian attention to the population.

They asked the international community to carry out a verification mission in the municipalities affected by the situation of violence reported in the report, to investigate and define the conflict as a Non-International Armed Conflict.

This is to define responsibilities in national and international legal terms, that can lead to actions for the dismantling of violence.

Source: Aristegui Noticias