CHENALHÓ, Mexico, July 21 (Hfrance.fr) - Like the Zapatista rebels before them, the natives of the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, took up arms, but this time they said it was to fend off the organized crime gangs that are rampant in their communities.
Dozens of armed and hooded people belonging to a group called 'El Machete ' marched over the weekend through the streets of Pantelho in the mountains of Chiapas - a first act public.
On the surface, the group looks like the hooded Zapatistas, who started the world made headlines when they emerged from the jungle in 1994, seizing towns and clashing with security forces to claim indigenous rights.
But according to a manifesto circulating online claiming to be written By the group, El Machete defines himself as a 'David ' seeking to defeat the 'Goliath ' represented by drug traffickers and contract killers. Hfrance.fr was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the document and was unable to contact the group for further comments.
" We want peace, democracy andjustice, "the manifesto said.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed or disappeared in Mexico since the government launched a "war on drugs " in 2006 and as fighting escalated between drug cartels vying for control of profitable trafficking routes to the United States.
In the face of spiraling violence and crime and tired of waiting for government help they often say never comes, Mexicans in different parts of the country have formed militias self-defense.
Asked about the emergence of El Machete, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he was against groups that "do justice themselves ".
Twelve people were killed, including a mino r, and another person disappeared between March and the first week of July, tandis that 3,000 other people have been displaced by violence in this region of Chiapas, according to local human rights organizations.
"We n "We are not afraid of them," said Jose Ruiz, referring to El Machete, after fleeing the violence to the neighboring municipality of Chenalho with his father and siblings. "It's good that someone has the courage to stand up for the people," Ruiz said. Additional report by Raul Cortes Fernandez and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Edited by Rosalba O 'Brien
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