Owners of land stolen by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) demand justice

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People displaced by the 1994 armed uprising in Chiapas demand compensation for their land.

Some 300 people who were displaced by the armed uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 1994, marched this Friday (05.27.2022) through the streets of the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, to demand compensation for 42,900 hectares invaded by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).

The protesters walked through the streets of the city for just over two kilometers to a hotel where they interrupted a meeting of the Commission for Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa) with indigenous teachers, who demanded their intervention before the government of Rutilio Escandón, the current governor of Chiapas.

“For more than 28 years they have kept us on the sidelines, we have spoken with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he channels us to the governor of Chiapas to solve the problem, however, he does not attend to us, that is why we have come to ask for the Cocopa intervention,” said Margarita Gamboa Morales, one of the displaced.


Almost three decades of dispossession

The demonstrators carried banners with phrases such as “28 years of having lost our heritage, Justice!”, “Enough of the lies, we want justice!”, “Enough of apathy, Governor!”, among others.

Those affected pointed out that although almost 30 years have passed they still remember how they were dispossessed of their lands, as is the case of Víctor López Gómez, an indigenous Tzeltal from Altamirano, who deserted a year after participating with the so-called Zapatistas.

“For a year we participated with the EZLN, they said that they would return the 400 hectares to us, but later they told us no longer because we did not have papers, but we do have the documentation that accredits the purchase since 1982,” said López Gómez.

Four thousand affected

This armed uprising affected 4,000 people who continue to press for compensation for the 42,900 hectares, located in three municipalities: Altamirano, Ocosingo, and Margaritas, although the amount was not specified.

“We are not asking to be paid for everything that this dispossession implies, we just want to be paid for the land,” said Jorge Pimienta Calvo, another of the displaced.

The Zapatista movement emerged on January 1, 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas with the uprising of a group of armed indigenous people led by Subcomandante Marcos. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was announced on the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico, came into force and constituted an international event.

As a guerrilla group, the Zapatistas intended to fight against the then President of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and currently, as a political movement, the Zapatistas are highly critical of President Andrés López Obrador.

San Cristobal Post