Chiapas indigenous people distance selves from Mexican election contest

By Mitzi Fuentes Gomez

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, Jun 3 (EFE).- The indigenous peoples in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas are going into the elections on the weekend in an unequal manner, without any political participation, despite the influence that the Zapatista movement has had in the zone.

“For the communities, nothing has changed. It’s the same way of thinking of earlier governments, and with President Andres Manuel (Lopez Obrador) there hasn’t been anything substantial,” Marcos Giron Hernandez, a researcher for the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Xochimilco, told EFE.

Giron Hernandez, who is of Tzeltal origin, feels that despite the Zapatista movement – which arose on Jan. 1, 1994 – there have been no significant changes in the political participation of the indigenous peoples of the region.

The Indians have kept their own forms of representation, as is the case in the municipality of Oxchuc, which since 2019 has held its municipal elections within the rules of the Indigenous System of Regulations for Practices and Customs, which replaces the system of political parties.

Giron Hernandez noted that often there is political manipulation of a list of candidacies for different kinds of offices, a situation which justifies the communities’ rejection of the conventional party system.

“We see many politicians who say they belong to an original people and that’s not true, that violates election laws,” Giron Hernandez said.

“They’re participating within an election framework that will govern the fates of the original peoples. It’s an aberration that in Chiapas continues to be run by those patrons,” he said.

Political participation by indigenous women also occurs within a similar framework, as in San Juan Chamula, where four women and six men are running for the municipal presidency and just one of the former has been seen out campaigning.

The campaign issues are focusing on the development policy, social infrastructure, education, healthcare, the inclusion and equality of women and transparency in carrying out social projects, along with agrarian problems.

Giron Hernandez said that there are no proposals to provide a different educational model, “more solid, (with) more cooperation, more humane. Those proposals don’t exist.”

“Or a development model that strengthens natural resources, strengthens river basins, the changes and uses of the land,” he added.

The big national projects like the Maya Train do not influence the election process here, but there is certainly a significant rejection of constructing a highway from Tabasco to the Pacific because the authorities are intending to buy the lands through which it will pass very cheaply.

Another of the most crucial issues concerns the mines that are in the hands of foreign companies and which degrade the environment and affect the health of local residents.

According to surveys, the Tzotzil, Chol, Tzeltal and Tojolabal communities say that there will be a punishment vote for Morena, the party that has been in power nationally since 2018.

Mario Gomez Entzin, a reporter for the Tzeltal people of Chanal, told EFE that there will be a change of “color” because the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has always won elections in Chanal.

Meanwhile, Gladis Dominguez, with the Chol community and a resident of Palenque, said that the election process is corrupt.

“Morena disappointed us. It didn’t honor what it promised,” she said.

The surveys also show that there will be little absenteeism due to the pandemic, but rather potentially due to the fact that the indigenous communities are fed up with politics, a weariness that can be seen in the closure of roads and access to some villages to prevent campaigning politicians from entering.

According to the Institute of Elections and Participation, four million registered voters in Chiapas will elect 163 officials, including city officials and assorted committee members.

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