Displaced victims in a Chiapas camp. Displaced victims in a Chiapas camp.

Cold, hunger claim 5 in Chiapas camps

Mayor blames highway blockades for preventing access to medical care

The death toll among displaced Tzotzil citizens of Chalchihuitán, Chiapas, rose to six on the weekend.

Mayor Martín Gómez Pérez said three minors and two adults died due to hunger and cold weather and their inability to obtain hospital care because of a highway blockade by citizens of Chenalhó, the alleged aggressors in the two-month-old flare-up of a 40-year territorial dispute.

The first casualty occurred last when when a two-year-old girl died.

The victims of the alleged forced displacement have been living in makeshift camps and caves in the hills that surround the town of Chalchihuitán.

The mayor lamented that all six deaths could have been prevented if the roads connecting what’s left of the town of Chalchihuitán with San Cristóbal de las Casas were open to traffic.

Residents of Chenalhó who are blocking the roads have allowed some vehicles carrying humanitarian aid to pass, but have forbidden all other traffic.

There is another road that goes through the town of Simojovel, explained the mayor, “but it is dangerous and impassable due to the rains . . . .”

Gómez said conditions in the camps, which are housing an estimated 5,000 people, have become worse due to very low temperatures and rain and food shortages.

The most affected are the children, said the mayor, although there are other vulnerable groups among them, including pregnant women and seniors.

Mayor Gómez issued a plea to Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco Coello for a solution.

A ruling on the underlying territorial conflict between the municipalities is expected to be made by an agrarian court on Friday. But it may not put an end the end to the crisis. Chenalhó citizens have warned that an unfavorable resolution will be followed by “drastic measures.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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