The members of Ocosingo have filed complaints with the Chiapas Attorney General’s Office and the Ocosingo City Attorney’s Office for Indigenous Affairs, but apparently they have not received a response.
By Chris Dalby
Mexico, November 25 (Insight Crime) .- It was supposed that win a lottery close up of one million dollars would have been a positive and transformative development for a Kinder garden and the surrounding community in Chiapas, Mexico, but it was the opposite.
In September 2020, the equivalent of the value of presidential plane of Mexico it was raffled through a nationwide raffle, a controversial long-term plan devised by the President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The 100 winners, each of whom took a prize of 20 million Mexican pesos ($ 940,000), were publicly announced as soon as the giveaway ended. Among the winners were several hospitals and schools.
One of the winners was the José María Morelos y Pavón kindergarten in El Nacimiento, an indigenous community in the state of Chiapas, in the south of the country. The educational center, located in a poor area of Mexico, planned to use part of the money to build a new roof and donate 14 million pesos ($ 660,000) to the local community.
But the joy soon turned into a nightmare. On November 21, Mexican media reported that at least 28 families of children attending kindergarten had been forced to flee, as a criminal group was demanding the money.
“We earned 20 million pesos, but the paramilitary band Los Petules say that the money is to buy weapons and we do not agree,” Melesio López Gómez, a representative of the families, told reporters.
Another member of the community, Marcelo Santiz López, said that a member of The Petules He had been shot and that the gang had stolen the credit card from the bank account where the money was deposited, as well as a large sum of cash.
During a protest by families in San Cristóbal de las Casas, López Gómez confirmed that they had abandoned their lands in October this year, after months of attacks and death threats. This also caused them to lose more than 250 head of cattle, as well as bean and corn crops that the community depends on.
Community members filed complaints with the Chiapas Attorney General’s Office and the Ocosingo City Attorney’s Office for Indigenous Affairs, but apparently they have not received a response.
ANALYSIS OF INSIGHT CRIME
In a country where extortion has reached alarming levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to predict that publicly announcing the identities of vulnerable raffle winners would backfire.
It is true that these types of announcements are required by law, in order to guarantee transparency in the raffles sponsored by the State and to avoid fraud. However, many other private lotteries do protect the identity of the winners.
But the sale of the presidential plane, and the subsequent raffle, received so much criticism and was so publicized, that it was possible to foresee that they would attract the attention of criminal groups.
Schools have been targeted by criminal groups of Mexico repeatedly, through extortion, robbery or the recruitment of minors.
Petules are well known in Ocosingo, municipality where the school is located. The group was founded in the 1990s as a paramilitary unit to repel the spread of socialist organizations, such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), according to a profile of The Broken Chair.
Since then, they have been linked to crimes such as extortion, murder, illegal land grabbing, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
A poor, defenseless kindergarten, receiving such an amount of money as a fall from heaven, must have struck Los Petules as the perfect early Christmas present.
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