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30 October 2007

Mexico: Dispossession of indigenous lands, Chiapas

Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

La Vía CampesinaFIAN
International Operative SEcretariat International Secretariat
Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No 5 International Secretariat
Jakarta Selatan 12790, Jakarta - Indonesia P.O. Box 10 22 43
Tel +62 21 79918901 D - 69012 Heidelberg - Germany
Fax +62 21 7993426 Tel + 49 6221 65300 30 Fax +49 6221 830545
Contact Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform
Tel: +504 235 9915 //+504 232 2198
About 271 families have been legally dispossessed of their lands. Out of these families, at least 70 families are currently at risk of being forcibly evicted from their lands in the municipality of Chilon (autonomous municipality of Olga Isabel), Chiapas state. Due to irregular procedures promoted by the Organization in Defence of the Indigenous and Peasant Rights (OPDDIC) conniving with local, state and federal authorities, the legal and legitimate rights of these families to their lands have been disregarded. The families in question currently face an eviction process. The legal dispossession and the potential forced eviction represent serious threats to the land tenure security of these families and heavily endanger the enjoyment of their rights to adequate food and housing.
Please send letters to the Third Agrarian Tribunal in Tuxtla Gutierrez requesting the definitive suspension of the eviction. Please send copies of your letter to the President of Mexico and to the Centre of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Research (CAPISE).


Chiapas is one of the Mexican states with the highest presence of indigenous population and the highest poverty rates. It is estimated that 71% of the indigenous population of Chiapas is malnourished. Main root causes of this situation are the historic dispossession of indigenous lands and the current lack of access to and control over land and other productive resources by indigenous peoples; and the lack of policies which foster a strong peasant and indigenous rural economy as well.

In 1994 the Zapatista Army of National Liberation called to regaining indigenous lands and territories. In the context of this uprising, Zapatista groups and other groups occupied more than 1300 private estates covering an area of aprox. 250,000 ha. In order to lower the tension of this conflict, the Mexican government quickly started to buy occupied lands from the affected landlords and recognized the land rights of the occupying families through an agrarian trust. This way Chiapas witnessed a significant agrarian reform process which has redistributed more than 200,00’ ha since 1994.
In the municipality of Chilon, different groups occupied 3,000 ha in 1994 making up what it is called today the autonomous municipality of Olga Isabel. In December 1996 the Agrarian Reform Ministry set up the first trust “Bachajon San Sebastian I” covering 1,680 ha and benefiting 547 occupying families. In March 1998 the second trust “Bachajon San Sebastian II” was set up comprising 1,320 ha and benefiting 451 families. In 2002 a group of beneficiaries affiliated to the organization CNPI which later became member of OPDDIC, founded the ejido (collective land tenure form) Muk’ulum Bachajón in the lands of the first trust. Due to manipulations of the members list of the trust backed by the Agrarian Attorney’s Office, 271 Zapatista families, who appeared in the original list of trust members, were excluded from the new ejido. These families are the ones who are currently facing the eviction process because they are now allegedly consider as “invaders”. Moreover, these families have been suffering all kinds of threats and harassment including destruction of plantations and crops. Last August Mr Leonardo Navarro Jimenez and his son Juan Navarro were seriously wounded by OPDDIC members. OPDDIC has been denounced for committing several crimes and for being part of a paramilitary counter-insurgency strategy.

The current situation of Olga Isabel families is not an isolated case. More than 20 towns have reported dispossession/eviction threats and permanent harassment like arbitrary detentions, damage to property, robbery, as well. Many Zapatista communities which regained land after 1994 are currently in risk of losing their lands due to different agrarian and judicial processes based on false accusations and faked documents. During the last months, tension is rising in an alarming way in Chiapas. The strong militarization of the state together with several recent dispossessions and forced evictions raise serious concerns about a worsening of the conflict which could lead to widespread violence with devastating consequences for the whole society.

The mandate of the Emergency Network

Mexico is State Party to the International Human Rights Covenants. According to General Comment 7 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, forced evictions are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and under no circumstances evictions should result in individuals being rendered homeless, without access to productive lands or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. Forced eviction and house demolition as a punitive measure are also inconsistent with the norms of the Covenant. Likewise, the Committee takes note of the obligations enshrined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocols thereto of 1977 concerning prohibitions on the displacement of the civilian population and the destruction of private property as these relate to the practice of forced eviction. Moreover, General Comment 4 states that notwithstanding the type of tenure, all persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.

To provoke or to instigate forced evictions amounts to violations of the right to adequate food and housing. According to international human rights law, the Mexican state is obliged to solve the problem of widespread land tenure insecurity of Chiapas indigenous peoples taking into account the respective norms enshrined in ILO convention 169 on indigenous peoples rights.

End of action: December 15, 2007

Please inform FIAN of any reaction to your letters




Dirección: 8ª Poniente Norte No. 164, Col. Centro, C.P. 29000, Tuxtla
Gutiérrez, Chiapas. Fax: (52)(961)611-3960

Copies to:

Presidente Constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos.

Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán.

Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México

Fax. (52) (55) 52772376

Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chiapas.

Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas.

Av. Central y Primera Oriente, Colonia Centro, C.P. 29009
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México Tel-Fax: (52) (961) 618-8088 --- (52) (961) 618-8056 E-mail:

Secretario de la Reforma Agraria
Av. Heroica Escuela Naval Militar No. 701, Colonia Presidentes Ejidales, C.P. 04470, Piso 1. México D.F. Fax: (52) (55) 5695-6368

Real de Guadalupe No.24.
Col. Centro. San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. México.
CP.29200 Tel/Fax: (52)(967)678-9738

Download the translation of the letter:

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