Chiapas: roads blocked to protest paramilitarism

Indigenous Chol Maya villagers from Nueva Esperanza hamlet, Tila municipality, blocked a main road through the highlands of Mexico's Chiapas state Nov. 9 to demand justice four months after the murder and disappearance of a community leader. Followers of indigenous organization Laklumal Ixim-Norte Selva said Toni Reynaldo Gutiérrez López was detained by municipal police and paramilitary gunmen in late July—to be found days later dead and with signs of torture on a local ranch. There have been no arrests in the case. Laklumal Ixim in a statement named as responsible a local political boss, Limber Gregorio Gutiérrez Gómez, who they said is a leader of the right-wing paramilitary group Paz y Justicia.

The murder followed contested municipal elections in Tila, in which the Mexican Green-Ecological Party (PVEM) took power in a vote assailed as tainted by Laklumal Ixim. The PVEM took 59 of the state's 122 municipalities in the race, in an unlikely alliance with elements of the old political machine of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that had ruled Chiapas for decades before being ousted in an upsurge from the left in 2000. Gov. Manuel Velasco Coello, in office since 2012, is also from the PVEM. Now reduced to a PRI satellite party, the PVEM is seen by Laklumal Ixim as a facade to re-consolidate the old machine under a new name. The organization's statement charged that the PVEM is "generating a climate of terror in Tila." (Chiapas Paralelo, Nov. 9;, Excelsior, July 27)