Two people were killed, two wounded and 22 held against their will when a territorial conflict flared up this week between the Oaxaca municipalities of San Pedro Cajonos and San Miguel Cajonos.
Located in the Sierra Norte region about 100 kilometers from Oaxaca city, the two municipalities have been warring for many years over the ownership of a forest located on the boundary between the two.
Yesterday, residents of San Pedro entered the forest in the vicinity of a village known as La Calavera to harvest timber. But their rivals from San Miguel ambushed them with gunfire.
Two San Pedro men aged 23 and 35 were killed in the altercation, while two were wounded and transported to the regional hospital in Tlacolula de Matamoros, where they were reported in serious condition.
Another 22 people, also from San Pedro, were apprehended by citizens of San Miguel. Among them were the mayor, the mayor-elect and several other local officials.
The state government said today that all 22 have since been released and a truce brokered between the two communities after officials with the Interior Secretariat and the human rights ombudsman’s office traveled to the Cajonos district.
The mayor-elect and other newly-elected officials take office next Monday, after which point long-term peace negotiations are scheduled.
Interior Secretary Héctor Anuar Mafud Mafud said the truce will not stop the investigation into the death of the two men.
A special police deployment has been sent to the region to keep the peace.
What is happening in Cajonos is not uncommon in Oaxaca. According to Mafud, there are 364 outstanding agrarian disputes in the state, 32 of which have been classified as high risk and 104 as medium risk.
Most date back more than 50 years. At stake is the value of the timber on disputed land.