Chenalho, Mexico, Jun 3 (EFE).- Seven people were killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on displaced villagers in this town in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, authorities said Saturday.
The attack took place Friday night in Polho, a Zapatista-led community in Chenalho, the state Attorney General’s Office said.
The target was a building occupied by roughly 150 people who had been forced from their homes in Santa Martha, another community in the same municipality.
The exodus began in September 2022, following a week-long armed confrontation between contending factions at odds how over to allocate 22.5 hectares (56 acres) of land, human rights advocate Reynaldo Perez told EFE.
“What happened in Polho was that an armed group attacked the camp of the displaced people of Santa Martha,” largely comprising women, children, and the elderly, he said.
He described the assailants as men with long guns who arrived and began “shooting wildly like in the movies.”
An investigation is under way, the Chiapas AG Office said.
The violence in Chenalho follows a series of clashes in Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas, a municipality on Mexico’s border with Guatemala that has been effectively taken over by criminal groups.
Chiapas is “on the verge of civil war” involving paramilitaries, gunmen from various cartels and local self-defense groups, organizations representing indigenous people said Wednesday in a statement signed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, among other notables.
“The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), that has kept the peace, developed its autonomous project in its own territories, and has tried to avoid violent clashes with paramilitary and other forces of the Mexican state, is constantly being harassed, attacked, and provoked,” according to the document.
Though the EZLN announced itself to the world on Jan. 1, 1994, with an armed uprising, the Zapatistas soon abandoned rebellion in favor of “political struggle by civil and peaceful means.”
The statement accused authorities in Chiapas of concealing the growth of organized crime in the state, while blasting the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for remaining silent about the situation.
For more than two decades, the EZLN has abstained from armed struggle “despite the fact that their communities are being fired upon, their crops burned, and their cattle poisoned,” according to the text.
“Instead of investing their efforts in war, they have built hospitals, schools, and autonomous governments that have benefited Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas alike,” the statement said.