An indigenous group in Chiapas called Xochil (alternative spellings: zocil, soxcil or tzotzil) in the Paraje Yutniotic of the Chamul area or in San Cristobal; language, land conflicts, relationship with Zapatistas, particularly in the period 1996-1997 [MEX38245.E]

No references to an indigenous group with the names Xochil, Socil or Soxcil, a location known as Paraje Yutniotic, or an area known as Chamul could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Please note that several sources refer to the Tzotzil as the predominant indigenous group of areas of Chiapas that include San Juan Chamula. More specifically, the Ethnologue catalogue of ethno-linguistic groups describes six Tzotzil linguistic sub-families; of these, the Tzotzil Chamula subfamily is said to include some 130,000 speakers (as per a 1990 census) in Western Central Chiapas, over areas that include San Juan Chamula and San Cristobal de las Casas (SIL International n.d.).

References to recent land and religious conflicts involving Tzotzils in the above-mentioned areas can be found in previous Responses. MEX20855.E of 12 June 1995 contains information on indigenous groups in general, with an attached 1994 article on land demands by Tzotzils in San Juan Chamula; MEX32519.E of 20 August 1999 refers to religious conflicts in Chiapas, including those affecting Tzotzil areas in San Juan Chamula over the past 30 years; MEX38248.E of 28 February 2002 refers to a group of Tzotzils who recently converted to Islam and inhabit in neighbourhoods of San Cristobal de las Casas which were formed by Evangelical Protestant Tzotzils expelled from their lands in San Juan Chamula some 30 years earlier.

Please find attached articles that provide details on the conflicts involving Tzotzil indians in the San Juan Chamula area of Chiapas in the period 1996-1997, with updates for 1999 and 2000.

Please note that the conflicts described in the attached documents are not exclusively religious or political, land-related or between ethnic groups; for example, one source indicates in regards to conflicts involving two nearby-towns,

Under the cry of, "One religion and one party," Tzotzil Mayan Catholic PRIistas in San Juan Chamula have expelled and/or killed evangelical Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventist neighbors, some of whom belong to the PRD, while Catholic PRD activists here in Sabanilla shout the same slogan in battle with Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventist PRIistas (San Antonio Express-News 23 Feb. 1997).

Another attachment indicates conflicts within the same religious group:

...the religious conflict in the Chiapas highlands has resulted in a further split in the Catholic church. Samuel Ruiz, the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, who is known as an advocate of Indian rights, has long criticised the forced eviction of the Protestants and demanded respect for the human rights of Adventists, Presbyterians and Evangelicals.
As a result, the Catholics of Chamula, whose religious rituals are closer to those of the ancient Maya than to a traditional Catholic mass, declared Ruiz persona non grata, and declared that their interpretation of the faith was the orthodox one (DPA 20 July 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA). 20 July 1999. Klaus Blume. "Bloody Religious Conflict Rages in Soutehrn Mexico." (NEXIS)

San Antonio Express-News. 23 February 1997. Philip True. "Hostilities May Flare Up in Chiapas." (NEXIS)

Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL International), Dallas, Texas. n.d. Ethnologue. "Mayan Family." [Accessed 1 Mar. 2002]


Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA). 20 July 1999. Klaus Blume. "Bloody Religious Conflict Rages in Soutehrn Mexico." (NEXIS)

San Antonio Express-News. 23 February 1997. Philip True. "Hostilities May Flare Up in Chiapas." (NEXIS)

The Washington Post. 6 February 1996. Molly Moore. "Religions Collide in Mexico's South; Protestants Pose Challenge to 500 Years of Catholicism." (NEXIS)

Weekly News Update on the Americas [New York]. 27 August 2000. No. 552. "Mexico: Peace Remains Elusive in Chiapas." (