"You don't mess with the government, idiots": Six killed at archealogical site occupation in Chiapas, Mexico

Mexican police on Friday shot and killed six peasants during and after an operation to end the popular occupation of an archealogical tourist site near Miguel Hidalgo, Chiapas.

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on October 7, 2008

The site at Chinkultic had been occupied by members of its surrounding villages since 7 September, following what villagers saw as its neglect by the INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia) - the state institution charged with maintaining the country's thousands of ruins sites - and the concentration of profits from tourism in the municipality (one of the poorest in Mexico) outside of its inhabitants.

The municipality of La Trinitaria, which encompasses Miguel Hidalgo and Chinkultic, ranks as one of the very poorest in Mexico. Some days before the successful eviction of the occupiers on Friday, villagers had successfully apprehended, detained and disarmed some 77 policemen sent to arrest the occupation's "ringleaders".

Although the deaths were written off by the state and federal police as an unfortunate necessity of the rescue of their officers, weapons and the site itself, evidence is now beginning to surface of some of the deaths happening a long way from Chinkultic and following its return to the police.

La Jornada today quotes Eloísa Margarita Espinosa Morales, a woman who was travelling with her husband in his pickup truck carrying injured villagers from Miguel Hidalgo towards the nearest hospital in Comitán (some 40km away). A police roadblock detained them several kilometres up the road and although they stated the intention of their journey, the police told them to "get down on the ground, you dogs!" before taking Morales' husband into wasteland and firing seven fatal bullets into him.

"You don't mess with the government, you idiots", the police told the truck's passengers. When Morales protested her innocence, she was robbed of her jewlry and told to "shut up if you don't want to die like those fools".

Monday saw the intervention of the Chiapas state governor, one Juan Sabines from the social democratic PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democrático) party. In exchange for some conciliatory words about the massacre (he promised to investigate "four of the six deaths", declaring that "justice is always with the people") in a meeting with villageleaders and relatives of the deceased, the police weapons were returned and an agreement was reached on the Chinkultic issue.

By Tuesday La Jornada was reporting "the return of normality" to both Miguel Hidalgo and the site of Chinkultic, however it appears to be far from the end of the story. Communities within the region of the Lagunas de Montebello, a 60km squared national park which sits around 10km east of Miguel Hidalgo on the Guatemalan border, have also called for the expulsion of INAH officials from the park in favour it being administered by they themselves.

The regions of La Trinitaria and Lagunas de Montebello also sit very close to the 32 autonomous municipalities of the EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) and have seen plenty of social unrest in the last few years.