Mexico is once again witness to terrible violence, this time in Chilapa de Álvarez in the western coastal state of Guerrero, where in recent days about 30 people have gone missing in an operation carried out by a so far unidentified armed group.
Community guards or self-defense groups (which are becoming more common in Mexico given the “war” against drug trafficking), as well as several groups involved with organized crime, operate in the state. Regarding the disappearances, local mayor Francisco Javier García González noted:
Estas personas fueron privadas de su libertad del 9 al 14 de mayo. Es un punto estratégico (Chilapa) para obtener sus enervantes y hacer su tránsito hacia otros estados, es a lo que yo le atribuyo la violencia. Vinieron a hacer limpieza del otro grupo delictivo y levantaron, presuntamente, a los halcones de Los Rojos.
These people were deprived of their freedom from May 9 to 14. It's an strategic spot (Chilapa) to get their drugs and transport them to other states, I put violence down to that. They came to clean up the other criminal group and allegedly lifted the Los Rojos’ halcones.
Lift or levantón is the term used in Mexico to allude to the illegal kidnappings carried out by criminal groups, while halcón (falcon) refers to informants that illegally support them.
A few days later, four dead bodies were found in the area, allegedly related with the disappearances, as Proceso reported:
Cuatro cuerpos con el rostro desollado fueron encontrados esta mañana en las inmediaciones del poblado de Nejapa, perteneciente al municipio de Chilapa de Álvarez.
Los cadáveres envueltos en cobijas estaban tirados frente al pequeño panteón del poblado indígena, ubicado a cinco minutos de la cabecera, sobre la carretera que conecta con el municipio de Ahuacuotzingo.
Four dead bodies with their faces skinned, were found this morning within the vicinity of the village of Nejapa, which belongs to the township of Chilapa de Álvarez.
The bodies, wrapped in blankets, were thrown in front of the small cemetery of the indigenous community, located five minutes from the headwaters over the road that connects with the township of Ahuacuotzingo.
The blog Sopitas also reported the news and pointed out that the family of a public servant might be involved in the violence:
Recientemente, al menos 16 personas fueron secuestradas por sujetos que tomaron el control del municipio por cuatro días en busca de miembros del grupo criminal Los Rojos.
De acuerdo con la investigaciones, los ataques están relacionados con el grupo conocido como “Los Ardillos”, dirigidos por la familia del presidente del Congreso, el diputado perredista Bernardo Ortega Jiménez.
At least 16 people were recently kidnapped by individuals that took control of the township for four days looking for members of the Los Rojos criminal group.
According to investigations, the attacks are related to the group known as “Los Ardillos”, led by relatives of the chairman of Congress, Party of the Democratic Revolution representative Bernardo Ortega Jiménez.
Mexicans have taken to Twitter to express their concerns over this new outbreak of violence in Guerrero. User Madame Déficit linked these events with the massacre in Tlatlaya and the missing Ayotzinapa students:
Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, y ahora #Chilapa… ¿a alguien le queda duda que el país se le ha salido de control al presidente Peña?
— Madame Déficit (@Alessia_mx) May 22, 2015
Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, and now Chilapa… does anyone still doubt that President Peña has lost control of the country?
@panaclo pointed out that she didn't know about the township in question until bad news arose:
— CLAUDIA es CLAUDIA (@panaclo) May 22, 2015
I have to admit that I came to know about Chilapa, as well as Ayotzinapa, from the news about their dead, massacred and disappeared people.
Plumas Atómicas shared this image:
— Plumas Atómicas (@plumasatomicas) May 22, 2015
Violence prevails in Chilapa: forced disappearances and skinned bodies
About the lack of mainstream media coverage of the news, user Yorch remarked:
— Yorch (@SimplementYorch) May 22, 2015
And why are the disappeared of Chilapa ignored? Because they were peasants and construction workers? No, it is because they are not politically profitable.
Meanwhile, Ximena Medellín mentioned the uncertainty about the actual number of victims:
Tres órdenes de gobierno “trabajando de manera conjunta” en #Chilapa y seguimos sin saber cuántas personas han desaparecido, en dónde están
— Ximena Medellin (@XMedellin) May 22, 2015
Three branches of the government “working together” in Chilapa and we still ignore how many people have disappeared, where are they?
The “three branches of the government” mentioned are the federal, state and local, which are supposedly coordinating to prevent crime and get justice.
On May 22, 2015, tensions were ongoing, so school activities in the region were suspended, according to SDP Noticias news portal:
De las instituciones educativas que suspendieron clases, 44 forman parte del preescolar foráneo, 30 del preescolar indígena, 27 de primaria foránea, nueve de primaria indígena, 18 servicios estatales, cinco secundarias generales y seis secundarias técnicas, además el delegado reconoció que las comunidades de dicha zona no se encuentran resguardadas por elementos de seguridad.
La planta docente que dejó de laborar de manera indeterminada corresponde a 892 profesores y a 15 mil 631 alumnos que no tienen clases.
Of the educational institutions that suspended activities, 44 are foreign preschools, 30 are indigenous preschools, 27 are foreign elementary schools, nine indigenous elementary schools, 18 state services, five general high schools and six technical high schools. Besides that, the delegate acknowledged that communities in the area are not protected by security elements.
The faculty members that stopped working indefinitely number 892 teachers and 15,631 students who are not going to school.
Chilapa is a region with heavy indigenous presence, whose traditions include the dances “Tlacoleros and Maromeros” and “tiger fighting”. It's located close to Iguala, a region that in the past few months became well-known for the Ayotzinapa tragedy, in which students were kidnapped and killed. The state of Guerrero (where Chilapa and Iguala are located) neighbors Michoacán, another area that has been seriously affected by the violence generated by the so-called “Mexican drug war”.