In the early morning hours of Thursday, October 12, with some uncertainty and caution, families, friends, and neighborsarrived one by one to the location known as “the Arch of the Seven Jaguars,” in the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas. The objective was to march in protest toward the municipal government building.
Days before, a call out had been circulated for a “march for unity, justice, and peace,” signed by the Unidad de Pueblos, a group “made up of ejido commissioners for social peace in Chicomuselo.” The organizers called on the people to break the silence and peacefully march, as an act of Indigenous and campesino resistance in Mexico and Latin America.
In recent months, in the Mexico-Guatemala border region, clashes between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel have worsened the climate of violence. The two cartels have been fighting for territorial control in the region. These criminal groups have sown fear in towns like Pacayalito, in the municipality of Motozintla, as well as in the ejido Tres Maravillas, and in Chicomuselo, causing forced displacement and curfews.
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Due to the escalating violence, the organized ejido commissioners called on “all sectors of society to peacefully unite as people and as municipality to call for government intervention.”
They even alluded to the Mexican president’s signature slogan: “No one above or beneath the law,” demanding him to act accordingly. “Because the people are tired of these groups seeking to control our territory, imposing themselves with total impunity,” declared the Indigenous people.
Those organizing the protest reiterated that impunity has led to increased assassinations, disappearances, forced displacement, threats, intimidations, among other things. “The families of the disappeared are searching for their loved ones. The authorities are not involved in the search,” said one of the protestors who, for security reasons, omitted their name.
Regardless of the fear, along with uncertainty caused by rumors “that the protest was to support one of the two cartels, the Sinaloa cartel, the people took to the streets to protest all groups provoking violence in our territories, and so that President Obrador listens to us,” added one protestor.
In Chicomuselo, even before the recent intensification of violence, community members had already denounced the presence of the narco-paramilitary group, MAIZ, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. “They wanted to displace the market vendors so as to impose their own people,” said an interviewee for Avispa Midia via telephone.
Different sectors of society all mobilized together, including the teacher’s union, transport workers, healthcare workers, athletes, vendors, members of social organizations, community authorities, and ranchers.
At the end of the march, the organizers estimated at least 10,000 people were present. Arriving to the central plaza of the community, the protestors chanted slogans like, “The united people will never be defeated! The silent people will never be heard,” ending the protest in relative calm.