Chiapas Massacre : police operation in Chincultik that left six peasants dead, 17 wounded, and 36 detained

November 19, 2008

State police summarily executed three peasants in front of a child

The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued a press release on denouncing the October 4 police operation in Chincultik that left six peasants dead, 17 wounded, and 36 detained. Of the wounded, ten were beaten and six were shot. Three men were gravely injured: one was transfered to a hospital in Mexico City, and the other to a hospital in the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez.

According to a communique from the state attorney general’s office, about 40 police had entered the community to carry out subpoenas against 28 people whom it suspected were involved in the takeover of the Chincultik ruins and the booth at the entrance to the ruins where visitors are charged an entrance fee. The police entered on horseback, in vehicles, and on foot, shooting tear gas and kicking down doors in various houses.

The townspeople, who claim that the government does not properly maintain the ruins and that the tourism proceeds from the ruins should benefit the town, defended themselves from the attack. They surrounded the police and disarmed them, guarding the 77 police weapons in the town. The residents detained the police officers, holding them in the town office.

Hours later, 300 State Preventive Police officers entered the community, again shooting tear gas at the residents. The peasants responded with sticks and stones, at which point the police opened fire, injuring several residents.

Agustin Alfaro Alfaro, his wife Eloisa Margarita Espinoza Morales, and their young son arrived from a neighboring ranch to transport four of the injured men to the nearest hospital. However, before reaching the hospital the State Preventive Police intercepted their truck and opened fire. A bullet struck Alfaro in the leg. The police pulled him from the car and shot him in the chest. Then they summarily executed three of the injured men: Rigoberto López, Alfredo Hernández, and Miguel Antonio Martínez. Espinoza Morales and her son were uninjured.

During the operation, police also shot Ignacio Hernández López and Ricardo Ramírez Ramírez, who died on the way to the hospital.

The 36 peasants who were detained during the operation were released the following day in exchange for the weapons the peasants confiscated from the police they detained.

Frayba reports that state and federal authorities have decided to pay the dead peasants’ families MX$35,000 (USD$2,851.31) in funeral costs and MX$75,000 (USD$6,109.95) in “economic support.” They’ve also promised residents food rations, community development projects to build tourist hostels or restaurants. The residents are offended by the offer.

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