A community of almost 2,000 people flee violence in Chiapas

The town of Chavajeval is experiencing an urgent humanitarian crisis.

On November 7, a community assembly was held in the town of Chavajeval, in the municipality of El Bosque, in Chiapas. There was a detonation, then several shots. The memory of an ambush two weeks earlier, in which two men were killed, caused the assistants to flee seeking refuge, but not in their homes but outside the community: the entire population left there, leaving the site as a town ghost.

Some 1,800 people spent that night moving towards the mountain, looking for trails to the municipal seat of El Bosque , where they could be safe. The rumor of the exodus and the violence that provoked it reached the priests Manuel Pérez and Helder López, who went to Chavajeval and found a semi-desert town, in which there was still a body in an advanced state of decomposition, without some parts that They had already been devoured by animals.

According to López Velasco, in their wake they also found some families who remained hidden in the town and had not left in three days before the fear of another armed attack. One person said he had not eaten for four days. At another point they found a 110-year-old woman who was lost after the departure of the entire community. The clerics took them to the municipal seat to offer them medical care and shelter. This forced displacement adds to others that are occurring in Chiapas, a product of armed attacks that peasants can not repel.

“Until now there is no clarity, they say they are already investigating but there is still nothing. The community was investigating the death of these two people and shots were fired by several parties. That’s where the whole community dispersed and left because of fear. They do not know who shoots them, that’s why they come out of fear, “Father Helder López told Political Animal by telephone.

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center estimates that there are 1,764 Tzotzil Indians who fled the town , although the father estimates more than two thousand. Almost none speaks Spanish, according to the pastor, and never before had they had an exodus of this magnitude, in which all the people fled at once. For this reason, the Fray considered that the town of Chavajeval is experiencing an urgent humanitarian crisis, because these people require a safe place to shelter, food, medical attention and medicines.

The crisis has also fragmented families temporarily, as the dispersed movements to communities in the municipalities of Chalchihuitán, Simojovel and San Cristóbal de Las Casas caused the separation of family groups that are looking for each other, Fray warns.

In an urgent action published on Tuesday, the organization says that on Monday went to the area to know the situation and found that in the mountains are still about 500 displaced people, “without shelter, roof, or medicine, mostly women with his daughters and sons, “ the statement said. Of those women, he adds, four were pregnant at the time of fleeing and one already had the delivery in the mountain. There are also two children alone and two people of 80 years.

On the other hand, the town of Chavajeval has not had human activity for days, according to Fray. “The houses are abandoned without any damage, in the corrals some animals have died but there are no looting,” says the text.

This massive displacement occurs at the same time as others registered in recent months in the Altos de Chiapas, a predominantly indigenous area of Tzotzil origin. The most recent is that of the municipality of Aldama, from which some 780 people have left because of the fear of being shot by paramilitaries who dispute a coffee plantation and shoot them as soon as they leave to harvest their coffee.

Both the Fray Center and the priest have urged the state government to intervene to stop armed attacks by paramilitaries, self-defense groups and organized crime against indigenous peoples, who, unable to defend themselves, abandon their villages and everything they had in them.

According to the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, in 2016 there were 29 episodes of massive internal displacement in Mexico , 20 of which were caused by violence. Most of them occur in 12 states: Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.

Source: Animal Politico

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