The disappearance of 10 Guatemalan chicken vendors in Chiapas puts the border in the spotlight again

The disappearance of 10 Guatemalan chicken vendors in Chiapas once again illuminates the dangers of the border between Mexico and the Central American country. Taken over by criminal groups, the line that separates both countries lives at the pace set by the criminals, installed on the border in the face of the passivity of the authorities, who are reduced to recording the results of the onslaught. The disappearance of the merchants occurred in the middle of last month in Frontera Comalapa, one of the epicenters of the Chiapas horror.

The differences between the data handled by one country and another illustrate their laziness. Absent since November 16, the Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office assures that it only has information about the disappearance of one of the 10, Dan Josué Rosales, 30 years old. About the others, no idea. The Prosecutor’s Office itself published, however, its search files at the end of last month. For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala refers to its statement of November 27, in which it indicated that it only had search files for five of them.

The institutional babbling contrasts with the statements of relatives of several of them in the Guatemalan media. Lilian Sarat, the mother of Luis Vázquez, 17, said a couple of days ago, for example, that she just wanted her son to call her. The woman asked “those people who have them to please put their hand on their heart.” Another woman, wife of Juan Carlos Calel, 30, told a television channel that their three-year-old son asks every night about his missing father.

There are no clues as to what happened, beyond the latest communications from those absent. In an interview a few days ago with the newspaper Free Press, the family of Dan Josué Rosales indicated that the young man and the others left Cuyotenango and Suchitepéquez, in Guatemala, on November 13, heading for the border. Instead of crossing through the closest Tapachula side, they went through Frontera Comalapa, one of the fronts of the battle between criminal groups. The young man’s family even had doubts about whether the Mexican immigration authorities had detained them. Asked about this, staff from the National Migration Institute have said that they have no information.

For just over two years, criminal organizations have been fighting for the border crossings between Guatemala and Mexico, on the Chiapas side. Motozintla, Frontera Comalapa, Chicomusuelo and Frontera Corozal, somewhat further north, draw the map of the conflict. In September, a convoy of trucks allegedly from the Sinaloa Cartel paraded along the road that connects Chamic and Comalapa, to the apparent cheers of residents and neighbors. Clashes between groups are common, as are roadblocks. The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center has insistently denounced the lack of protection of the population, forced in many cases to flee.

A source familiar with the situation on the border, consulted by EL PAÍS, points out that sellers from Guatemala have been arriving at Frontera Comalapa in recent months, precisely because of the battle between the groups. “The Sinaloa Cartel is blocking Frontera Comalapa from the north and from the south, through Chamic and Motozintla. According to him, because in Comalapa there is the Maíz Group, which works with the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel,” he explains. The blockade would make it difficult to transport goods through Mexico, hence the arrival of merchants from the neighboring country.

Without clarity about the status of the missing, it seems difficult to point out possible reasons for the disappearance of the sellers. Are the 10 still missing? Did the criminal groups in the area have anything to do with it? According to stories from relatives reported in the press these days, the vendors were going to try to sell chickens on the Pacayal route, that is, between Comalapa and the border line. In their search files, the relatives of seven of them indicate that they lost track of them when they went to Comalapa. Those of the other three say that they stopped hearing from them when they went to Siltepec, between Comalapa and Motozintla.

It is also known that the group consisted of two other people. Apparently, they were all staying in a house in Frontera Comalapa. During the day, they went out to sell the chickens to the surrounding towns. At night, they would gather back at the house. But on November 16, only two returned. This was told by relatives of Dan Josué Rosales, who spoke with the owner of the Frontera Comalapa lodging. It is not known whether the Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office has interviewed this person or not.

The authorities, meanwhile, do not seem too interested in the matter. The Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office has not reported on the information collected. Foreign Affairs of Guatemala has told questions from this newspaper that “officials from the Guatemalan Consulate in Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas, continue to follow up and are waiting for updates from the Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office on the investigation.” Questioned in this regard, the Guatemalan consulate in Comitán referred to the statement of November 27.

In the statement, in addition to recognizing that so far there were search files for only five of the ten, it was noted that “actions were being coordinated with the investigative police of the Prosecutor’s Office, commissioned to handle the case in Tapachula, who In turn, it has detachments in Motozintla, Comitán, and links in Comalapa. In these places, information is shared and the search is carried out in hospitals and morgues.”

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