dorset chiapas solidarity

July 15, 2016

Chiapas: Opening of Photographic Exhibition of Banavil Displaced Families

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, sipaz — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:26 am



 Chiapas: Opening of Photographic Exhibition of Banavil Displaced Families


banavilPhoto from the exhibition (retaken from Faces of Dispossession)


July 5 saw the opening of the photo exhibition “20 Windows on Forced Displacement in Chiapas” in the Paliacate cultural centre in San Cristobal de Las Casas. They invited the Banavil displaced families, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) and Melel Xojobal. The exhibition is the result of an action of the Faces of Dispossession campaign and the four displaced Banavil families, who were expelled from their land after an attack by a group of members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) carrying firearms the December 4, 2011 in the municipality of Tenejapa. The exhibition contains 20 photos, 20 photographic windows that are “our memory that will not break and will never be broken”, the families at the event said. The photos represent a selection made and titled by the families themselves in “an exercise in self-recognition and a return of the solidarity received from those who also have provided security in the three provisional returns in 2015 and to those who have walked with them for more than four years”. The photographs are mostly anonymous, born of the lens of international observation and free media accompaniment.

In the audio-visual event, visitors were actually included in the exhibition. Through an activity where testimonies and descriptions for each photo were told, people better understood the value of each photo. Looking for the story of each of the photos, one participant said that, “due to the testimonies, I felt a closer relationship to the photos and the story that is behind all that.” One example is the testimony of Maria, where she speaks about how they support their families: “We were embroidering the cloth, that’s how we started working. It was not the work we did before when we were in Banavil. This is very different, the work that is done. Now we embroider cloth to get money to keep our daughters and sons too … It is to survive in this displacement we are in right now, that’s the work we do, the women” (see photo on this post). The documentary “Justice, Truth and Return for Banavil Displaced Families” (2015) from the Koman Ilel collective was also shown. At times, recordings of the voices of members of families in Tzotzil were heard, telling stories of everyday life and the daily challenges they face in their temporary homes where they live since their displacement four years and seven months ago.

Faces of dispossession analyses that “forced displacement in a context of counterinsurgency warfare to eliminate experiences of autonomous organization in Chiapas is a daily violation of human rights”. These are the same families in forced displacement, and their support networks, who do not cease in their path of dignity to demand return, justice and truth so that the human rights violations committed against them do not go unpunished and the events are not repeated. The Banavil families also sympathize with other displaced families in Chiapas such as in Shulvo, Zinacantán and Primero de Agosto in the Municipality of Margaritas.

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



March 9, 2016

Displaced families continue to demand justice

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:47 pm



Displaced families continue to demand justice



During the commemoration in Banavil, Tenejapa, Chiapas. Photo @ SIPAZ

February 21 last marked one year since the death of Antonia Lopez Mendez, a Tseltal girl who died in a situation of forced displacement and without medical attention. Her family returned for two days to the community of Banavil in the municipality of Tenejapa to remember Antonia in accordance with their customs. In front of the tomb of the girl, her family recalled the suffering that they experience in forced displacement. Her mother, Maria Mendez, said, “Antonia left displaced and she became ill in San Cristobal de Las Casas. We have nowhere to live, no land, and she became ill for this reason and she couldn’t receive proper medical attention. She also sought our return and for this we remember her.” A caravan of some 90 people from social organizations, of human rights observers and free media, accompanied the displaced families on their return to their lands. This is the fourth time they returned provisionally having been displaced on December 4, 2011 by an attack by armed members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). It is also worth remembering that since that date, Alonso Lopez Luna has been missing.

Likewise, February 23 marked one year since the forced displacement of 60 Tojolabales from the village of Primero de Agosto in the municipality of Las Margaritas. For one year, “when the ‘ejidatarios’ of Miguel Hidalgo forcefully displaced us from our village”, they have been living in a camp 15 minutes from their place of origin in precarious conditions. In the communiqué on the first anniversary of their displacement, they pointed out that, “as villagers we have put up with death threats, kidnapping, humiliation, harassment, one year of living under pieces of plastic, sleeping on wet ground, facing illnesses when our women and children are ill, a year of pain, a long year asking the federal, state, and municipal governments for a return to our village and for justice for those responsible for those criminal acts, who to date continue with impunity […] This year we have shared our pain with the world, we have walked to make new paths of peace and justice with dignity, and as campesinos we need land to be able to live and work because the land belongs to those who work it.” It is worth highlighting that on February 7 last, Marisa Fernandez Mendez Perez, a four-month-old baby dies due to the vulnerability of the conditions in which she was born. Apart from the displaced, various civil organizations, among them the Network for Peace (Red por la Paz) have asked “energetically that the State of Chiapas fulfils its agreements to bring about the conditions to resolve this situation of displacement.”

It is worth mentioning that at the end of 2014, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (CDHFBC, also known as Frayba) launched a campaign, “Faces of Dispossession” with the objective of giving visibility to the problem of forced displacement in Chiapas, and which is included in what they refer to as “within the government strategies which systematically eliminate community culture and denies the full recognition of the collective rights of indigenous peoples.”




July 22, 2015

Displaced families from Banavil complete 3 years and 7 months of forcible displacement

Filed under: Displacement — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:02 pm


Displaced families from Banavil complete 3 years and 7 months of forcible displacement



On 4 July, the Tseltal families from Banavil, Tenejapa municipality, completed 3 years and 7 months “since the armed aggression that took place on 4 December 2011,”which left several families displaced, and Alonso Lopéz Luna disappeared.

The families share that, to date, “the government has done nothing. To date, we continue displaced, and we have not been able to return to our lands where our homes are, and we continue living in inhuman conditions.” Further, “the Mexican State is protecting the PRI members who displaced us from Banavil and disappeared our father Alonso Lopez Luna.

In light of this failure of justice, the families have convened to ‘demand justice, truth, and peace for those other indigenous peoples who have been forcibly disappeared in Chiapas, particularly in the cases of Primero de Agosto, Las Margaritas.” They also expressed their solidarity with Manuel López Pérez, the member from the Las Abejas Civil Society who was killed on 23 June, as well as with the Simojovel municipality amidst the “high-risk situation and […] the threats against our brothers from the Believing People and the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez.”

The displaced closed their denunciation by noting that“this is what is happening in our communities in other communities and municipalities of Chiapas, because in Chiapas there is no justice. The law is made only for the rich against the poor.” They hold the three levels of the Mexican government repsonsible “for our forcible displacement and the forcible disappearance of Alonso Lopez Luna.”



March 16, 2015

Global tribute to Antonia Lopez Mendez

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:20 pm


Global tribute to Antonia Lopez Mendez


Global tribute to Antonia López Méndez, aged eleven, who was one if 13 people forcibly displaced from Banavil, Chiapas in 2011, and who died over three years later of cerebral oedema, as she struggled to return to her family’s home and lands. Her death was as a result of the conditions in which she was forced to live, with poor nutrition and inadequate healthcare and all the consequences of forced displacement. The authorities did nothing.

There are 2000 children living in similar conditions of forced displacement in the northern and highland zones of Chiapas.

See the Faces of Dispossession campaign:




February 1, 2015

Call for screenings of New Documentary – Forced Displacement: Justice, Truth and Return for the Families of Banavil

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:09 am

 Call for screenings of New Documentary – Forced Displacement: Justice, Truth and Return for the Families of Banavil

Banavil familias desplazadas

Saludos compas,

As part of the Faces of Dispossession campaign, which focuses on forced displacement in indigenous communities in Chiapas, the displaced families of Banavil are asking people to organize screenings of this new video made by Koman Ilel and Promedios. It is mainly in Tseltal, and is available with good clear Spanish or English subtitles. It is 27 minutes long.

In a context of counterinsurgency war, the López Girón families, EZLN supporters, were attacked on December 4, 2011 in the hamlet of Banavil, Tenejapa Municipality, Chiapas. Alonso López Luna was kidnapped and disappeared, and the rest of his family were forcibly displaced. They are currently living in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, without access to their rights to land, health, education and food. This video portrays, through moving interviews, their experiences during and after the forced displacement.

The Spanish version is available here:

To organize a screening, please contact:

*The Faces of Dispossession Campaign enables the indigenous peoples of Chiapas to speak out against the different Faces of Dispossession they experience on a daily basis. It also identifies and makes visible those responsible for human rights violations in order to demand that the Mexican state comply with its human rights obligations. For more information, please look at the campaign site:





January 29, 2015

Controversial arrest warrants in the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:17 pm


Controversial arrest warrants in the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre




In a bulletin issued on January 8, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC) reported that the new arrest warrants against those allegedly responsible for the Viejo Velasco Massacre, Ocosingo municipality, “violate the right to fair trial, including the presumption of innocence”.

It noted that in September 2014, the suspects, members of the Xi’Nich organization and support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), obtained Court Protection. However, the District Judge of Ocosingo dictated new arrest warrants, although the prosecution has not collected sufficient elements to establish the existence of the alleged crimes nor the responsibility of those indigenous persons.

The CDHFBC complained that “the investigation of the Attorney General of the State of Chiapas has been ineffective: they have accused the victims as if they were the perpetrators”, and they have been “criminalized and judicialized “. It warned that from the beginning, the investigation “of this crime against humanity” was distorted.

Giving more context to this new facts, the CDHFB recalled that “on November 13, 2006, in Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo municipality, about 40 people from Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab, communities of the Lacandon Community, accompanied by 300 elements of the State Police of Chiapas, five Prosecutors of the Public Ministry, two experts, the Jungle Zone Regional Commander of the State Investigation Agency (with 7 more persons) and a representative of the Ministry of Social Development, assaulted the Viejo Velasco community. They broke into the houses, stole people’s belongings, and caused the forced displacement of 36 people, the extrajudicial killing of four persons and the forced disappearance of four others. “

The day of the incident, the alleged perpetrators were in the ejido Nuevo Tila, where actually arrived the displaced persons from Viejo Velasco. The inhabitants provided them support and organized a brigade of observation.




December 8, 2014

Three years without land and without justice, for those displaced from Banavil

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:21 pm


Three years without land and without justice, for those displaced from Banavil

By Angeles Mariscal

Chiapas Paralelo, December 5, 2014



During these last three years, living in misery and suffering has taught us new learning, new faces, new places. Photo: Frayba



*From January they will participate in the campaign “Faces of dispossession”

The families displaced from Banavil are living without rights to land, health, education or food, explain those affected, three years after they were expelled from their home and place of origin in a violent action during which the father of the family, Alonso López Luna, was forcibly disappeared.

In a press conference held at the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), they recalled that on December 4, 2011, they were attacked with firearms by members of the PRI from the settlement at Banavil, backed by Tenejapa Municipal City Council and state officials.

“After three years of being away from our homes, we have learned that the government plans to build the highway to Palenque, the PRI authorities of Banavil have already signed authorizing the lands to be destroyed to enable the road to pass through, there we see that, instead of acting well, the government wants to see us trampled on, destroying the few lands that we, the indigenous have” said Lorenzo, Miguel, Petrona and Anita Lopez Giron, daughters and sons of Alonso López.

They added that in this period and in their struggle for justice, all they have managed to achieve is that Alonso Guzmán López, of the PRI, and one of those responsible for the disappearance of Alonso Lopez Luna, was imprisoned for a few months.

“He was released by the First Court of San Cristobal de Las Casas, for lack of evidence, this makes it clear that with this government one cannot find justice. Our Father Alonso continues missing without a search for his body, although the government say he is dead in the criminal file, we ask where is the body?” explained his children.

They accused the government of Chiapas of inviting them to hearings and leaving them waiting; and of having no political will to find their father, or for their return.

Support for Banavil. Photo: Frayba

Support for Banavil. Photo: Frayba

“During these three years, we have been in misery and suffering, which has taught us new learning, new faces, new places. On the way we met with the People of Simojovel, with the Adherents to the Sixth of Las Brisas, with the victims of Viejo Velasco, with those imprisoned unjustly, in the CNI, in the TPP, with students who were with the disappeared normal schools of Ayotzinapa, with women, with the movement for life in defence of the land along the highway to Palenque, and with others. Through them we share what we feel “.

Therefore, they said that they are entering into another process of struggle and of demanding justice, so that from January they will participate in the campaign “Faces of Dispossession” through various actions.

“We demand again that the state and federal governments fulfil their work: we demand the live appearance of Alonso Lopez Luna and the 43 normal school students missing in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.”


Translated by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



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