Another self-defense force has emerged in the northeast of Chiapas.
Three months after the “El Machete” force was created in Pantelhó, the Armed Force of Simojovel has appeared in the neighboring municipality.
About 12 armed and masked members of the group appeared in a video posted to social media on Sunday.
“Today we have formed the armed group of the people with the aim of demanding respect for human rights. Out of respect we haven’t entered the town … but we’ll soon take action if our demands aren’t met,” said a spokesman for the group.
In a message directed to the incoming mayor of Simojovel and “the groups he heads,” the spokesman demanded respect for “our indigenous brothers” and an end to the embezzlement of the town’s resources.
He also said the self-defense group won’t allow the presence of drug traffickers or the operation of cantinas. In addition, he called for an end to murders in the streets of Simojovel and for “decent medical care for the people.”
“Public security should be for the people, not for the criminals,” the spokesman declared. “If these demands aren’t met, we’ll act against the bad municipal government.”
The orator also said that the armed group is an independent force and not affiliated with any political party.
The publication of the video coincided with the departure of Simojovel priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, who officiated at his final mass on Saturday after spending 10 years in the town, located 90 kilometers north of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Pérez was the subject of death threats, according to two bishops from the diocese of San Cristóbal.
“With surprise the news of death threats against the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez reached us,” Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez and Luis Manuel López Alfaro said in a statement last month without specifying where the threat came from.
“People or groups that make threats against him or any … [priest] are threatening the church of Jesus Christ and this diocese.”