His Sponsors Have Economic Interests in the Resources of the Selva Lacandona
By Hermann Bellinghausen
February 27, 2007
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, February 17: The Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPPDIC, in its Spanish intials) expanded with great ease into certain areas of Chiapas territory. From a secondary political position, Pedro Chulín Jiménez, “moral leader” of the group (as the pro-government press calls him), appears to be the one who is holding the strings of the provocation towards the Zapatista municipalities.
Substitute federal deputy Elmar Darinel Diaz Solórzano, PRI legislator by relative majority of the third district of Ocosingo that holds seat ‘L-449’ in the Congress of the Union, Chulin has been a local deputy, regent of the municipality of Ocosingo and president of the organization he founded in May 1998, barely a month after leading an armed civil group on April 11, which together with the police and agents of the National Migration Institute attacked and destroyed the autonomous municipal seat of Ricardo Flores Magón in Taniperla, from where he originates.
Afterwards he was associated with the “phantom” paramilitary group Antizapatista Indigenous Revolutionary Movement (MIRA, by its Spanish initials), which operated in the cañadas of Ocosingo since the interim government of Julio César Ruiz Ferro, predecessor of Roberto Albores Guillén and Chulin’s political mentor. The creation of the OPPDIC elevated him to open political activity. Nevertheless, the violent actions of the organization became commonplace by 2002, well into the governments of President Vicente Fox and Governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía.
On July 13, 2002, the autonomous municipality Ricardo Flores Magón warned of “the danger of a new paramilitary group forming and gaining strength in this territory, with the ejido Arroyo Granizo as base of operations, where a group of persons belonging to the OPPDIC are seeking to cause division and committing criminal acts against the population. Led by Pedro Chulín Jiménez, the well-known leader of the MIRA, this armed organization, which grew under the protection of the federal army and the impunity offered to it by the government, could well be sheltered today under the appearance of the OPPDIC.”
Weeks previously Arroyo Granizo had begun to suffer abuses committed by people affiliated with the PRI when “ejidatarios who have ceased attending the assemblies” established an alternative seat and as started off by putting an illegal jail on the lands of the community school. On June 29, the community assembly charges: “The OPDDIC members who have proclaimed themselves to be authorities of the ejido are the same persons who are committing crimes against the community: thefts, sexual violations of minors, threats, drunkenness and drug use and of cause of much harm to our people. Moreover, with their actions they are dividing our community and try to cause confrontations among indigenous brothers and sisters. The assembly has realized that they have become a group created by the bad government in order to destroy the peace of the people and the ejido. They are also the government’s promoters who bring the politics of Plan Puebla-Panamá to our communities, which the general assembly of the ejido rejects.”
In this community of Zapatista and XíNich majority, the PRI-members were passing themselves off as ejido authorities and their “police officers” used military uniforms and carried out training exercises and patrols. In May 2002, two OPPDIC members, Alberto Sanchez Gómez and Rosendo Vázquez Mendoza, separately violated two young girls of the community, but “escaped” from justice, protected by their organization.
In August 2002, Chulín’s group attacked the Zapatista check point and community of Nuevo Guadalupe Quexil (autonomous municipality San Manuel), in what was to be the first of several armed aggressions in that period, while maintaining its core in the cañadas of Taniperla and Las Tazas.
But it was not until 2005 when the OPPDIC took the offensive when it openly approached the Fox government through peace commissioner Luis H. Alvarez and took over the PRI structure in Ocosingo, Altamirano and Chilón,, violating its own party during the electoral period. A likewise PRI-affiliated columnist would accuse in 2006: “Chulín has lost himself in his own personal ambition, and what is most serious, he no longer cares about exposing the indigenous of Altamirano in order to physically confront the EZLN militias.” (Erisel Hernandez Moreno, Chiapas Hoy, May 8)
But he benefited from it. This February 14, Pedro Chulín ratified his pro-government stance in declarations to the local press: “The policy with which Juan Sabines Guerrero began to govern is the most appropriate one, and is backed by us indigenous who are striving for a better future for Chiapas.” As an indigenous and campesino organization, he continued, ”we offer our total support to the new government; we see within our communities the peace and work needed for development, and therefore we are joining the project without hesitation.“
The international observer Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez, who has been an expert on the situation in the cañadas for years, wrote this week in the alternative media: ”Those pulling the strings and doling out the money to the OPDDIC have economic interests in the natural resources [of the Selva Lacandona], such as precious woods (mainly mahogany and cedar), water (for generating electricity and bottling), oil and other minerals, ecotourism business opportunities and biodiversity.“
Translated by Dana
Originally published in Spanish February 18