Indigenous back new armed civilian self-defense group in Mexican state of Chiapas

The group announced their appearance last Saturday, saying they arrived "to expel hit men, drug traffickers, and organized crime" because they do not want more deaths for the indigenous peasants.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thousands of indigenous Tzotzil and Tzeltal people from Pantelho gathered this Sunday to show their support for the new group of armed civilians called “Los Machetes”, the self-defense groups recently created in the Mexican state of Chiapas, in the southeast of the country.

A hundred men with assault rifles in a local assembly, and some with machetes, called “Autodefensas del Pueblo Los Machetes”, were presented to the community.

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The group announced their appearance last Saturday, in which they said they arrived “to expel hit men, drug traffickers, and organized crime” because they do not want more deaths for the indigenous peasants.

This Sunday, the villagers expressed their support while rejecting drug traffickers and hired killers and expressed their desire to live “in peace and freedom”.

A hundred men with assault rifles in a local assembly and some with machetes, called "Autodefensas del Pueblo Los Machetes", were presented to the community.
A hundred men with assault rifles in a local assembly and some with machetes, called “Autodefensas del Pueblo Los Machetes”, were presented to the community. (Photo internet reproduction)

They denounced that this municipality has been affected by a wave of murders by hired killers of the armed group “Los Herrera”, linked to the municipality.

One of the community representatives assured that this is not a political act but action in defense of life and announced that this armed organization is now supported by the 83 communities and inhabitants of the municipal capital.

The spokeswoman for the community members explained that the “narco-city council” of Pantelhó had murdered the Tzotzil people for two decades, and it was the insecurity in which they live that made them take up arms “against the hired killers”.

She indicated that in these 20 years in which the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has monopolized municipal power through family members, the hired killers maintained control of the 83 communities.

In addition, the armed group “Los Capotes”, which has its center of operations in the community of San Francisco El Triunfo, and the Municipal Police agents also maintain constant harassment against the inhabitants of the municipality, which is why they now took up arms “to demand justice”.

They assured that they had the “union of all the communities of Pantelhó” to create the self-defense group with the objective that “all those responsible” for the murders in Pantelhó go to jail.

THEY WILL ELECT NEW AUTHORITIES

During the assembly, they took the opportunity to demand that the local Congress conduct an audit against the mayor Delia Janeth Velasco Flores, that the electoral process of June 6 be annulled, and that the mayor-elect Raquel Trujillo Morales be ousted.

They affirmed that next October 1st, among the 83 communities, they will elect their own municipal authorities.

The assembly was attended by Josefina Bravo Rangel, from the Commission for the Dialogue of Indigenous Peoples of the Ministry of the Interior, who announced that they would contribute to the pacification of Pantelhó.

The so-called “self-defense groups” exist in the states of Michoacán and Guerrero, where they were born in 2013 due to the threat of organized crime and the central state of Morelos.

On several occasions, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed his rejection of these groups, arguing that the state is responsible for security, and that these groups are used by “thugs” to infiltrate society.

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