Mr. RICARDO LAGUNES GASCA, a lawyer working for the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre, was attacked on 18 September 2009. He was leaving Ejido Jotola in Chilsn municipality after advising clients when an armed group of about 50 men and women blocked the road. Mr. Gasca was pulled from the car and assaulted. He was able to escape after the residents of Ejido Jotola intervened in the attack. However one of the villagers who intervened, Carmen Aguilaw Gsmez, was shot in the thigh by the attackers. Members of the state police (Policma Estatal Preventiva) were seen talking to some of the attackers shortly before the assault on Mr. Gasca. Although called to intervene, the state police did not arrive until after the attack.
The community has identified the attackers as members of an armed group known as the Organisacisn para la Defensa de los Derechos Ingmgenas y Campesinos (Organisation for the Protection of Indigenous and Peasants Rights). They have been responsible for attacks and intimidation against communities in Chiapas that are believed to be sympathetic to the Ejircito Zapatista de Liberacisn Nacional (National Zapatista Liberation Army), an armed opposition group operating in many areas of Chiapas. After the attack, armed members of the group responsible occupied the local community centre for two days. They remain in the area and authorities have not taken action against them. The villagers are in danger and there are fears that human rights activists working in the area may be at risk.
Letter written 24 September 2009 by Cara E.I. Gibbons, LRWC Member