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Violence drives 4,000 residents from town in southern Mexico

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Archives Le Devoir Some Tila residents said they spent days trapped in their homes before army troops and state police showed up this weekend to allow them to leave. Here, a man is seen driving on roads in Chiapas in 2019, on his way to San Andrés Larrainzar. (Illustrative photo)

Associated Press in Mexico

Posted at 5:25 p.m.

  • Americas

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged Monday that authorities had to set up camps for displaced people after some 4,200 residents fled a town in the southern state of Chiapas. country.

Residents of Tila fled over the weekend after armed gangs shot everywhere and burned many homes last week, prosecutors say of State. This is likely the largest mass displacement in Chiapas since 1997.

Some residents said they spent days trapped in their homes before the troops army and state police show up this weekend to allow them to leave.

Photos distributed by state authorities show people fleeing with only a purse on their shoulder, or sometimes a small backpack or shoulder bag.

Mr. López Obrador described the assault as “a conflict between the same people” from the town of Tila, an apparent reference to a long-standing land dispute between farmers.

Many people spent three days in their homes, too afraid to go out, before federal forces arrived, said Tila resident Víctor Gómez.

“Many “Many people left with what they had on their backs, without money, without clothes, they left behind all their belongings, many domestic animals remained in Tila because they could not be evacuated,” he lamented.

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But observers said criminal gangs and political interests were behind the clash.

The Digna Ochoa Center of rights activist said a group calling itself the “Autonomos” (the Autonomous) was behind the violence and was linked to drug trafficking.

“Things have calmed down”

State prosecutors say at least two people found the dead and at least 17 buildings were burned last week.

The gangs have also been accused of extorting protection payments from residents and setting up roadblocks.

President López Obrador assured that food was being distributed in the camps. He said “things have calmed down” and the government now wanted to begin negotiations with the groups “to reach an agreement so that people can return to their communities.”

Battles between rival drug cartels have affected several municipalities in Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border, as the region is a major route for drug and migrant smuggling. Mr. López Obrador has long sought to downplay the violence in Chiapas, accusing those who write about it of “sensationalism.”

In 1994, rebels from the indigenous Zapatista movement staged a brief armed uprising in Chiapas, and thousands of people were displaced as a result of fighting between the rebels and the army.

< p>In 1997, the massacre of 45 indigenous villagers in Acteal, triggered by land and political conflicts, also caused thousands to flee.

L' The state also experienced slower, but years-long, expulsions of residents of certain municipalities due to land or religious conflicts.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116