Some residents of the municipality of Chilapa, Guerrero, have returned to their homes after being forced out of their communities in June by death threats from criminal gangs.
More than 580 families left the towns of Ahuihuiyuco and Tepozcuautla after criminals warned that they would kill anybody that remained, reported the newspaper Milenio, although reports in June indicated that the number of people who fled was much lower.
Now, some are starting to return although economic factors rather than a marked improvement in security appear to be the main motivation.
Margarita López has ventured back to her home in Ahuihuiyuco after a two-month exile to find that her pigs have died and two horses are missing.
“Living away is very expensive, that’s why we returned,” López said.
Another woman, Gabriela, and her family have also returned to the municipality out of economic necessity.
After leaving Tepozcuautla in May in the wake of her brother’s disappearance and the kidnapping of two other family members, she and her extended family initially rented a house for three days in the municipal seat of Chilapa. However, dwindling finances forced them to seek refuge with relatives in other parts of the country.
When all their money ran out, Gabriela and her family decided to return to Tepozcuautla. But, like López, when they returned to their humble home they found that their animals were gone as well as their furniture.
Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo announced shortly after the mass exodus that it was safe for residents to return to the community due to heightened security efforts.
But the director of a local human rights defense center, Manuel Olivares, says “those who are coming back do so in total anonymity and with a lot of fear.”
He added that the towns are not equipped for their return and danger remains.
“The people that have returned haven’t done so in conditions of security because there is no health care, no services, there’s nothing . . . [and] there are signs that even with the presence of the army, there is a latent risk.”
For the past three years Chilapa has been a lawless land, the subject of a turf war between two criminal organizations known as Los Ardillos and Los Rojos. Cultivation of opium poppies and trafficking of its derivatives is big business in the region.
Siempre Vivos — an organization which represents families of missing persons in the area — says that conflict has cost the lives of more than 500 people and a similar number are missing.
Its director, José Díaz Navarro, says that crimes are becoming more and more violent and that authorities have failed to adequately respond.
“Just in the last four days they reported to me that we have five disappeared people in Chilapa and another in Zitlala but the authorities don’t do anything, criminals continue to control everything and they run free.”
Source: Milenio (sp)