AMERICA/MEXICO – An indigenous catechist, defender of rights, assassinated, the diocese’s complaints on the increasing violence in Chiapas are not heard

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San Cristobal – “With pain we have learned of the murder of our brother Simón Pedro Pérez López, an indigenous Tzozil, catechist of the parish of Santa Catarina, in Pantelho, diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, who was president of Civic organization Abejas de Acteal, whose members have waged a peaceful struggle in the search for justice”. Thus begins the statement of the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, signed by the Bishop, Mgr. Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, by the Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr. Luis Manuel Alfaro López, by the Chancellor and by the Vicar of “Justice and Peace”. The Acteal massacre, named after the small indigenous village in the state of Chiapas, was committed on December 22, 1997: a paramilitary group killed 45 people, of the Tzotzil ethnicity, mostly women and children, while they were in church.
In the text, sent to Fides, which bears the date of July 6, 2021, it is recalled: “In the context of the spiral of violence that we are experiencing in the State of Chiapas, added to the pain of the Tsotsil, Tzeltal, Ch’ol, Totic, Tojolabal peoples, are an open wound for the diocese, aggravated by countless testimonies of abuse, injustice and impunity, forced displacement, murder, political murder, theft of land and vehicles. Our memory reminds us of the events that took place before the Acteal massacre, which we struggle to forget”.
The diocese notes that several inhabitants of the municipality of Pantelhó have denounced “that for several years they have suffered threats from people from the municipal authority who conspire with organized crime in the municipal seat and different communities of Pantelhó, as well as the murders of people who have been left without justice being applied”.
He then recalls the murder of four people belonging to a political party, which took place on March 13, 2021, and underlines that “after the June 6 elections, violence and murders in this town hall have increased”. After citing the analyzes of the Latin American continent and the dynamics that generate oppression, terror and death, the text denounces: “As a diocese, in various ways we have warned the municipal, state and federal authorities of these situations and we have become spokespersons for all these complaints and sufferings, but it seems that there are obscure interests that cause the omission of complaints, which are minimized. We are still witnessing, in Chiapas, the reactivation of the forces that have changed from paramilitaries to organized crime, allies of the narco-government, who have invaded our state to control the resistance of the organized peoples who defend their autonomy”. This situation, continues the text of the diocese, pushes us to ask the government authorities to prevent similar events from happening again; to protect the population, especially those who defend human rights; to report on the progress of the cases that have so far gone unpunished. They then call on the “intellectual and material” perpetrators of acts that cause terror, cruelty and death to repent and change their attitudes according to God’s plan. “May the blood of Simón Pedro and of all the murdered people – he concludes – be the seed for the liberation of indigenous children who suffer marginalization, persecution and displacement. The blood cries out for peace, the blood cries out for justice but never cries out for revenge”.