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January 18, 2012
Translation by Rick Arnold

Supporters of “The Other Campaign” declare their community closed to alcohol and drugs

They have also prohibited Canadian mining and forestry companies from coming in to exploit their territory, and in addition are accusing police authorities of protecting delinquents.

Hermann Bellinghausen, reporter
Published in La Jornada: 13/01/2012

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas - Organized community members from Siltepec, located in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, closed off access to the municipality to beer companies, distributors of alcohol and drugs, as well as to Canadian forestry and mining companies that are working their territory; in addition they closed down 18 cantinas and called into question the actions of the police, the mayor and the State’s Public Ministry, all of whom they accuse of protecting the delinquents.

As of Thursday (Jan. 12, 2012) they decided “to organize ourselves at the municipal administrative centre so as to be able to, in coordination with ejidos*, scattered rural dwellings, neighbourhoods and communities, exercise control over our territory without the intervention of political parties or government”.

The civil society organization Luz y Fuerza del Pueblo-Region Sierra, supporters of The Other Campaign, with a presence in 38 municipalities in the region, stated: “Our municipality, similar to most in Chiapas, is suffering from serious problems with alcoholism, too many bars, a proliferation of drugs and prostitution, the cutting of trees and the commercialization of the environment, facing the clandestine looting of minerals by Canadian mining companies in the Honduras Ejido and in the community of Las Nubes in the Toquian Grande Ejido, while the companies attempt to intervene in others".

Community members decided to put up signs place chains across entrances and exits in key points in the municipality as well as in the ejidos where the natural resources and minerals are to be found, "to stop the clandestine looting of minerals, given that the mining company Blackfire has been going in surreptitiously at night and has already taken out eight truckloads of minerals from the Campo Aereo zone that is part of the Honduras Ejido; we are notifying all concerned that we are not going to permit such activities anywhere in the sierra".

And they add: “Following orders from the people in the ejidos and organized communities, we have closed down some 18 cantinas in the administrative centre of Siltepec, and at the same time we have set up nocturnal vigilance to keep order using our own guards in the town centre, in 5 communities, in the ejidos and for scattered dwellings in the rural areas. We will detain drunks, delinquents and other ne'er-do-wells given that the local police don’t exercise vigilance or offer security; rather they dedicate themselves to extorting and repressing the population. The municipal president won’t respond to our requests or carry out the obligations incumbent on the office”.

They insist that their community guards be respected “because they are following community orders derived from written agreements”.

Siltepec is an indigenous and small-farmer municipality, wedged into the rugged southern mountains (of Mexico) between the Honduras River and the border with Guatemala.

Translation done by Rick Arnold, Common Frontiers - Canada

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