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Displaced and defenseless

The lack of a solution to a conflict over land has displaced entire Tzotzil communities, leaving them defenseless
Displaced and defenseless
Tzotzil people – Photo: María de Jesús Peters/EL UNIVERSAL
29/05/2018
09:29
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Migration has always been present in the history of human beings. Although countries and borders have surged, this phenomenon hasn't disappeared. The mobility of people between nations and continents is still a constant at present; millions of people in the world leave their places of origin searching for a better quality of life.

In countries with large territories, such as Mexico, domestic migration is also common. Because of studies or work opportunities, thousands of Mexicans relocate to other states and begin new projects.

However, it's also common that this migration obeys other factors, ranging from violence and vulnerability on the face of natural phenomena to social or land conflicts.

EL UNIVERSAL presents today the story of over 1,300 Tzotzil people who have had to flee their homes due to the ancient conflicts among the communities living in the Chiapas jungle.

The lack of a solution to the dispute over 60 hectares of land has resulted in – for the luckiest ones – Tzotzil people living under a roofed court, with low food supplies and no medical attention or medicines available. Others live in coffee plantations, at the mercy of mosquitoes and other insects, waiting for some kind of help, like the image published today on the front page shows.

This situation isn't uncommon in states like Chiapas. Just last November over 5,000 indigenous people had to leave their homes to save their lives. The legal defenselessness they are in weighs down on several communities in conflict. Clashes, quite often with fatal outcomes, take place without the intervention of law enforcement agents.

These clashes have been taking place for four decades and thus far no authority seems willing to broker peace. The clearest example of what these fights can lead to, happened in 1997, with the massacre of Acteal.

Where is the peace the State is supposed to provide to the population? There's no violence here caused by criminal gangs but by squabbles between communities over land. Shouldn't there be a solution pursuant to that set forth by the Law? And if someone loses, shouldn't the State intervene to relocate the people?

The matter is affecting the most vulnerable sectors of this already vulnerable population: children, women, and senior citizens. For them, laws are nonexistent.

Migration has many causes yet what we shouldn't condone is the displacement of communities over conflicts which can be solved according to the Law, and with the support of local governments.

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