Youth being beaten in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Youth is beaten in San Cristóbal de las Casas.

Crime and punishment in Las Hormigas

Accused of theft, boy stripped, beaten and exhibited nude in Chiapas

A teenage boy accused of theft was stripped, beaten and paraded in the streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas last week in punishment.


The boy allegedly tried to steal either money, a bicycle or both from a house in the La Hormiga neighborhood of the Chiapas city last Wednesday.

When the owner of the house, a woman identified only as Rosa, noticed the theft she called for help from her neighbors. No authority was informed of the alleged crime.

Eyewitnesses said several men entered the boy’s home and dragged him out and stripped him of his clothes.

As the boy cried out, Rosa struck him with a length of rope after which he was exhibited in the streets of the neighborhood in order to make an example of him to others.

The child’s father witnessed the punishment but didn’t intervene for fear of being attacked as well.


After several minutes, the boy was released and allowed to return to his parents.

The incident was filmed, uploaded to the internet and shared on social networks, where everyone but San Cristóbal’s municipal police department saw it.

When questioned by the newspaper El Universal, an official with the municipal administration stated that the municipal police had not heard of the incident.

Nearly a week later, the state Human Rights Commission asked the local Attorney General’s office and the indigenous justice prosecution office to open an investigation.

A municipal official told the Human Rights Commission that he had interviewed the minor, and that the victim of the theft had not requested the intervention of the authorities.

Residents of La Hormiga are known for taking justice into their own hands. The neighborhood is known for catching criminals and punishing them by tying them to posts and flogging them.

It is seen by many in San Cristóbal as “lawless territory” where neither the police nor the army can enter.

Many of its residents are members of the Tzotzil indigenous people who were expelled some 40 years ago for religious reasons from the nearby town of San Juan Chamula.

Source: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • Berynice

    That’s justice here in the south.

    • Henry Wilson

      no choice when all of the cops look the other way.

  • K. Chris C.

    The only viable functions for government are contract adjudication, and resolution and justice in disputes over trespasses of property or person (real crimes). When those two functions come to serve only the means and ends of government–money and power–quite naturally, mob rule becomes more prevalent. I.e. civlizatins becomes less civilized.

    Tyrannies in more developed lands harness mob rule in the use of the populations as”informants” against one another, less developed lands just see mob rule.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

  • Abey Abraham

    Any way this is wrong justice
    H&R BLOCK introduced two unique offers to our prospective clients.
    1)Free Federal 1040EZ begins on January 3 and runs through February 28
    2)Refund Advance of up $1,250 begins January 9 and ends February 21 – 0 % interest and no hidden fees

    This year everybody’s refund will be delayed because of the Path Act Law. The PATH Act is complicated and will impact millions of taxpayers this year.
    That’s why we introduced REFUND ADVANCE.

    Ask for me for an Appointment !

    Abey Abraham
    Tax Analyst
    3451 W Dempster, Skokie, IL 60076

  • Henry Wilson

    i have spent much time in sclc. formerly a beautiful place to be, especially in summer. no more. crime, poverty, dirt and filth , constant protests by indigenous in the central plaza…a place to stay away from. sad.

  • Assuming the kid was guilty, I think this was an excellent punishment. It’s in the same category as the old Medieval stocks, which I wish were still widely used. Or used at all.

    • Henry Wilson

      agreed when the local cops do nothing but run interference for the crime families who control the cities and states.