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Dec 4, 15

Displacement as a strategy to end the Zapatistas

From Regeneracion Radio

On December 4, 2011, members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) moved from Banavil, village in the municipality of Tenejapa, a family of four families, composed of thirteen members of Tzeltal speakers and native to the region. Lorenzo Lopez was seriously injured and detained for two months and Alonso López was disappeared for four years, during which time the group has been removed from his home and currently they live in extreme poverty.

The Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de las Casas documented that between 1997 and 2001, in Chiapas more than 15,000 people were forcibly displaced as a result of the government’s strategy to eliminate the Zapatistas.

“The government we have here in Mexico is a monster, it is a government that no longer works for us because it only protects those responsible for the disappearance, displacement and has done nothing of the investigation.  So far it has not solved the problem,” says Miguel López Girón, son of Alonso López, in an interview with Radio Regeneracion.


By early 2011 the rumor of a possible displacement reached the ears of the Lopez family, coupled with continued death threats.

Some days, the PRI came with their guns to knock. Among families they decided to implement a series of minimal care to avoid conflict: if someone came knocking on the door no one was going to leave, no one would walk alone through the town, they would go at least two people. That was the way they found to avoid conflict. They did not know that at the end of the year they would be displaced and their lives change dramatically.

“There were death threats that they were going to kill us in the way. They were allowed to gather and then began to plan it just the leaders. Eased the problem a while and there was no threat, started walking,” says Miguel.


It was Sunday December 4. The family was having breakfast before church in Tenejapa. Then arrived three women to the house of Lopez, they came with sticks and stones. Later they were joined by approximately fifty men and entered the houses, to the kitchen where they were. They took Alonso López Luna and started beating him until he was bloody. They overwhelmed all households.

“Alonso Lopez Ramirez [subject identified as PRI-] carried his rifle, he fired his gun and Lorenzo gets several bullets in his chest and groin. We could not save my dad. They began to shoot many bullets. That day we no longer knew anything about him, we could not see where they took him. We only know that my dad is gone. We have not found in four years,” recounts Miguel Lopez.

Lorenzo was seriously injured and was admitted to the Hospital of Cultures. He was taken five days to jail and charged with murder, injury and possession of weapons used exclusively by the army. In the same case accused Francisco Lopez Santis, of belonging to a EZLN support base.


In 1996 the village families were Banavil EZLN support bases, remained four years in the organization. In Banavil no government support is received until the mayor sought strategies to reach people through social programs, obtaining that in 2000 some BAEZLN leave the organization and return PRI.

At that time the harassment began, as all families except Lopez Giron began receiving government support, “The PRI began to harass us. We began to question where we drew money not to accept the support of the PRI and accused us of bringing a lawsuit in the church,” recalls Miguel Giron.

In 2007, the Lopez family Giron longer support base due to harassment and death threats received constantly, though without accepting continued to enter the social programs implemented by the PRI at the municipal level. Although this could not prevent the conflict.


They planted beans, corn, pumpkins and plums in the fields of Banavil. They worked the land thereby obtaining resources for their livelihoods. Currently they reside in San Cristobal de las Casas. They perceive a big difference between the two entities: “In the colonies of San Cistóbal the money does not reach us,” points Pedro Lopez Giron, referring to his life in the tourist area since 1994 began to be populated mainly by foreigners, making it a place expensive to live.

In this household, the men go out to work as assistant bricklayer and have a small cornfield. Women go to wash clothes they pay fifteen pesos a dozen. Also engaged in embroidery blanket, each is paid in twelve pesos, is embroidering a three-day work piece.

“We do not eat with government money, we work to eat and support our family.  So the government does not care about our suffering, he lives well with the money they have. The government has no will to resolve our problem,” Petrona Lopez Giron.

In an interview with Radio Regeneracion, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de las Casas explained that forced displacement is a violation of human rights which leads to other as the right to land and territory. They detected some violations in the living conditions of IDPs and directly affecting their right to health, education and housing.

On February 21, he died an integral part of the family at the Hospital of cultures, due to a cerebral edema. Antonia Lopez, eleven years old.  She became seriously ill: he stopped walking, did not speak, he was very weak, they do not have the economic resources to respond.  The hospital does not have enough or the material for the operation that the child needed medications.

“The health of our family is very difficult, when we get sick strong medicine is needed.  Sometimes we do not buy and use only the herb we know, sometimes not removed.  We have no access to health San Cristobal that we are not recorded in the colony “says Pedro Lopez Giron to discuss the case of Antonia.

The four displaced families require resolution of the problem of displacement and the emergence of Alonso López Luna, who so far have found that only have one arm.  They point to the Public Ministry and the Municipal President of Tenejapa, as they have knowledge of how the problem started but so far there is no resolution of the case.  They have not fulfilled one of their demands, they say.

The Human Rights Center Frayba, has accompanied displaced families.  In 2015 they temporarily returned three times accompanied by international human rights observers, in the Chiapas government’s inability to ensure the safety and integrity of the displaced.  Families complain that while impunity continues, the risks remain.


“Forced displacement in Chiapas is given in the context of an internal armed conflict is not resolved as part of a strategy that destroys community projects tissues to obstruct independent and autonomous organization,” says Azalea Hernández Rodríguez, responsible for social communication and community center Human Rights Fray Bartolome de las Casas, in an interview with Radio Regeneracion.

The CDHFB says the Mexican state as responsible for these serious violations of human rights. They say that research, search and locate Alonso López Luna, the ultimate return in safety and guarantees of non-repetition are key demands to compensate the damage to the victims and guarantee their human rights.

The Banavil case is part of “Faces of dispossession” campaign to draw attention to the forced displacement in Chiapas and build solidarity networks to pressure the Mexican government to comply with the responsibilities signed internationally.

In the north of Chiapas, in Tzeltal and Chol region, about 4,000 people from communities threatened by the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia were displaced, according to the Fray Bartolome Center documentation.

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