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Mexican Justice approves land grab in Chiapas

Mexican Justice approves land grab in Chiapas



Injustice and impunity continues against the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajon, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), who have been fighting a legal battle over the last four years, after the Mexican government transferred the ownership of the ejido lands.

The Third Collegiate Tribunal in Tuxtla Gutierrez referred the case to the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), but the minister Beatriz Luna proposed to the court to return the case to the Tribunal. In recent days this body of justice denied the ejido’s amparo, and, although this was derived from the amparo, the Third Tribunal ordered all the government authorities of Chiapas not to continue the acts of dispossession; the decision to recuperate the land on 21st December last was due in part to the legal foundation that was given them in advance of the judgement on their rights.

Despite the strong repression and harassment, the ejidatarios maintain their position of continuing with their actions. On 9th January at least 900 members of the federal and state police evicted them from the lands which had been recovered since 21st December. On 19th March, ejidatarios adherents were victims of dispossession and the burning down of the offices where they shared information, taught workshops for the community and collected contributions from tourists entering the waterfalls of Agua Azul.

San Sebastián Bachajón is one of the largest ejidos in Mexico with 70,000 hectares, it is an area of ​​high biodiversity and natural beauty, where political interests have looked for tourism investment. This land is rich in natural resources, green forest, wildlife and water. The waterfalls of Agua Azul are among the greatest attractions of Chiapas state; in certain seasons they acquire a turquoise hue that makes them even more attractive for foreign tourists.

In 2007, the ejidatarios became part of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, and made the decision to exercise their right to self-determination as a people. They then erected a tollbooth on their territory, so that tourists who wanted to visit the waterfalls of Agua Azul would pay a fee. With the money collected, they decided in assembly, they would support sick ejidatarios and the most needy families, explains the journalist Gloria Muñoz in her opinion column in the newspaper La Jornada.

In March 2011, Juan Sabines Guerrero, former governor of Chiapas, put on the table the representatives of the ejido Bachajón, those from the area of ​​Agua Azul and his entire government Cabinet, and signed agreement no 274 whereby the two peoples supposedly pledged to donate the lands to the state to establish a single toll booth. This left the state as administrator of the road through the Ministry of Finance of Chiapas and the Commission of Natural Protected Areas of the federal government, when the surface area of ​​Agua Azul was not even in this category.

After more than four years of tireless struggle to defend their territory, the San Sebastián Bachajon ejidatarios have resisted even though two of their main leaders were assassinated, many of its inhabitants have been imprisoned and tortured; and six of them are still deprived of their freedom.