Dozens of armed farmers reject ruling on Mexico land dispute
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Dozens of farmers armed with rifles and shotguns gathered in a pocket of mountain forest in southern Mexico on Friday and angrily rejected a Supreme Court ruling on a decades-old land dispute.
Video posted by inhabitants of the hamlet of Rafael Cal Y Mayor showed about 20 men with guns — mostly hunting rifles. One of the men claimed there were 50 to 100 men under arms in the district.
Farmers in that area are demanding to remain part of Chiapas state and have vowed to resist plans to redraw boundary lines that will put them in neighboring Chiapas state.
One of the local farm representatives, Heriberto Cruz, said that “we do not accept this ruling by the Supreme Court” and warned of “unfortunate consequences” if authorities tried to enforce the ruling.
The conflict is centered on the Chimalapas, an area of tropical and cloud forest and pine-covered mountain tops that is threatened by logging and cattle ranching. For years, settlers have claimed the area belongs to Chiapas, while farmers in Oaxaca say their ancestral lands were invaded by people from Chiapas.
This week, the Supreme Court ruled that about 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) rightfully belong to Oaxaca, saying its determination was based on a study of documents dating back to 1549. It gave authorities 2 1/2 years to enforce the ruling.