In recent months this human rights center denounced that the lives of members of various indigenous organizations and movement working in the region of Chilón in Chiapas, Mexico are in danger. Close to this region the Mexican government plans to construct a highway and start a tourist project the “Mayan Train”, a train route for tourists. Various organizations fear the environmental impact and social impact the infrastructure and massive tourism will have on their lives. Moreover, they point out there is no Free, Prior and Informed Consent, a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories and to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated. This is also embedded within the universal right to self-determination.
The organizations state that municipal authorities of Chilón have provoked the delegitimization of their organizations for questioning the infrastructural and tourist projects. Authorities broadcasted a communal meeting live on social media and have hereby put in danger the physical integrity of these human rights defenders, who have already received death threats on numerous occasions. Moreover, municipal authorities are pressuring the local population of Chilón to agree with the projects, threatening to cancel their social programs if they oppose.
On May 30, 2019, the Inter-American Commission and the Office of the United Nations expressed their concern about the increase in murders of human rights defenders in Mexico during the first four months of this year. The situation in Chiapas is serious for human rights defenders, especially those defending the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, to autonomy, self-determination and territory. Frayba urges the Mexican State to guarantee the security of the human rights defenders of the organizations Mission of Bachajón, Jesuit Mission of Bachajón, the Center for Indigenous Rights (CEDIAC A.C) and the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (MODEVITE), as well as to respect the collective rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas.