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FALL 2000 ISSUE

Los desplazados
Communities Flee Mexico's Low Intensity War in Chiapas

photography and text by Paul Myers

 

 

Since 1997 there has been an exodus of indigenous people from their communities, due to the ongoing counterinsurgency war by the Mexican government against the Zapatista army, its bases of support and the civilian population of the region. Desplazados were, and are, still being driven from their lands with threats of death from local pro-government paramilitary organizations for refusing to comply with demands of the government and the paramilitary. Leaving their communities under the cover of night, desplazados are forced to abandon their homes, their fields and all their worldly possessions in search of safety.

Desplazados have formed several camps in the municipality of Chenalhó, the largest being Polhó, with 8,000 inhabitants. Under constant threat of military and paramilitary intervention, the desplazados inhabit rooms made of cardboard and nylon walls where multiple families share the same space. These communities lack potable water, adequate medical attention and the right to start yearly crop cycles on their lands, which lie vacant. The people are chronically malnourished from a diet of only beans and tortillas donated by charities — and sometimes only tortillas and salt when the charity trucks don’t arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© 2000 El Andar Magazine