dorset chiapas solidarity

December 24, 2014

The make-up of dispossession in San Sebastián Bachajón

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Ethics, Human rights, Indigenous, Tourism — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:08 pm



The make-up of dispossession in San Sebastián Bachajón


On December 21, 2014, dawn came to San Sebastián Bachajón with the news of their having reclaimed their territory located on the boundaries between the areas of Agua Azul and Tumbalá. These lands had been taken from them by the bad government of Juan Sabines Guerrero and Noe Castañón León, in collusion with the then ejidal commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón, Francisco Jiménez Guzmán.


Why dispossession? The track giving access to the “Agua Azul Waterfalls” ecotourism centre crosses the lands of San Sebastián Bachajón. Since September 2009, the ejidatarios had administered the access continuously. Until February 2, 2011 when military and police forces came to violently evict them from their land, leaving a total of 117 detainees. The eviction order came through the then governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero (now a fugitive for stealing money and increasing the state’s debt to nearly 40 billion pesos, he fled to Punta Diamante, Acapulco, Guerrero,) and the then Secretary General of Government Noé Castañón León.


After the eviction, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) installed a tollbooth on the boundary line between Bachajón and Tumbalá, leaving the entire construction in Bachajón, 10 centimetres from Tumbalá. Meanwhile, the Institute of Civil Protection (INP) and the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection (SSyPC) installed a permanent [troop] detachment. A Civil Protection building was built using construction materials the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón kept there.  Where the House of Multiple Uses of the ejidatarios used to be is now the parking area for this building.

DSC7282-500x213 (1)

There was also built, or rather converted, a “Medical Consulting Room,” from a construction that had been begun by the ejidatarios, next to a house with meeting rooms and bathrooms. The meeting house was destroyed; the bathrooms remain, while the supposed medical consulting rooms are not in use, as they have no staff or medical equipment. There is only the facade.


It was not only displacement and dispossession. They also stole their construction materials and destroyed their property.

Plunder masked with legality is what is found on the way to the Agua Azul waterfalls.

The true face appeared again in the early hours of December 21, covered with bandanas and balaclavas, with painted blankets which make clear who they are. This true face speaks in Tseltal and greets the people passing on this road to get to the waterfalls of Agua Azul. They charge 29 pesos less than the CONANP tollbooth for the use of this route, that is to say 10 pesos. Children do not pay.


How much do they earn, the ejidal commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez and the vigilance councillor Samuel Díaz Guzmán, who have asked the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, to intervene through the public forces to evict those who have regained their territory?

But the ejidatarios are clear. The dialogue has to happen, and it will only be between the true and rightful owners of the land. Not for negotiation, the land is not negotiable. But so that everyone can live in equality. So there will not be some who are above and some who are below, like there is now.

That’s why they are there, defending what is theirs, the girls, boys, women, men, grandfathers and grandmothers, the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). But there are also ejidatarios who are non-adherents but feel strengthened by their compañeros ejidatarios to be able to raise their voices and say “ENOUGH, we never agreed with Pancho (former ejidal commissioner), nor now with Alejandro. This is our land and we will defend it.”


However the bad people always are always on the lookout in the face of those who want to build. A day after they recovered their land, there is information that the ejidal commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón, Alejandro Moreno Gómez, and the vigilance councillor, Samuel Díaz Guzmán, have been requesting the entry of police forces, and at this moment armed groups are being organized headed by Juan Alvaro Moreno from the village of Xanil, Manuel Jiménez Moreno from the village of Pamalá and Carmen Aguilar Gómez from the village of Chewal Nazaret; to come in a violent way to displace and evict the families who are caring for the land they have regained peacefully, without harming anyone or anything. There is a serious risk that children, the elderly and young people who are on the reclaimed land will suffer attacks on their lives and personal integrity.

The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) have already been informed of this risk, they already know the case for dispossession made against the ejido. Maximum dissemination of information is requested to avoid unfortunate events occurring against the people who are there. It also needs to be clarified that there has been no intention of confrontation or provocation at any time by the ejidatarios who have reclaimed their territory.

They just ask for dialogue. If there has to be violence in the displacement, it will be aggression and attacks from those who do the dispossessing.


Dorset Chiapas Solidarity


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