ricardo dominguez on Mon, 15 Apr 2002 13:48:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Reports suggest Zapatistas target of violence in Chiapas Montes Azules

Subject: News,Reports suggest Zapatistas target of violence in Chiapas,
Apr 07
Date: Sun, 7 Apr 2002 10:39:06 +0200

Reports suggest Zapatistas target of violence in Chiapas

Conrad Fox, TheNewsMexico.com - 4/7/2002

Conflicting reports came out of Chiapas on Thursday and Friday regarding a
flare up of violence in one of the autonomous municipalities held by
Zapatista rebels.

The Zapatista-affiliated NGO, Enlace Civil, issued a press release Thursday
saying three Zapatista sympathizers from the town of Nueva Patria in the
autonomous municipality of Enero 1 had been seriously injured in a stand off
with the militant coffee growers organization, ORCAO. The attackers were
reportedly armed with machetes.

Newspaper La Jornada also quoted municipality authorities as denouncing the
incident, which came "after several days of tension and provocations."
According to the paper, two Zapatista sympathizers were arrested after the

On Friday, however, El Universal reported that the police chief for the
region denied there had been armed conflict. He said the ORCAO militants had
rescued one of their members at 6 p.m. Thursday after being detained at a
Zapatista roadblock.

The paper quoted the police chief saying tensions arose two days ago when
ORCAO members cut a barbed wire fence that surrounded Zapatista-held

This contradicted Enlace Civil's claim that three days ago ORCAO members
kidnapped several Zapatista sympathizers, after accusing them of cutting a
fence surrounding an ORCAO ranch.

Chiapas has been rife with tension since 1994, when the Zapatista rebels
first emerged from the jungle to engage the Mexican army in several days of
fighting. The rebels, mostly poor indigenous peasants, were demanding better
living conditions from the government and indigenous self-rule.

Since then, an uneasy truce has reigned over the state, with 32
municipalities claiming virtual autonomy from the federal government.
However, sporadic violence, often motivated by land disputes, has continued
to erupt between the Zapatistas and other organizations in the area.

On Thursday, Enlace Civil said there was a "climate of tension" in the
municipality of Enero 1, owing to rumors that ORCAO was arming itself in
preparation to "take control of the land." The group also denounced the
state government for "supporting the actions" of ORCAO, without specifying
what form this support took.


Aid groups say army has forced thousands of Indians from their homes in
southern Mexico
Thu Apr 4,10:12 PM ET

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico - Aid groups presented
a criminal complaint to Mexico's human rights ombudsman Thursday,
alleging that the army has forced more than 7,500 Indians in 35
communities to abandon their homes in southernmost Chiapas state.

The complaint, filed by the Community Networks for Human Rights
and several other non-governmental aid organizations, alleges that
Mexican soldiers have forced thousands of Indians out of the Montes
 Azules wildlife reserve in the jungles near the Guatemalan border.

The complaint also claims that the army has increased
its helicopter fly-overs of the region, which is heavily sympathetic
to the Zapatista rebel movement.

"The signs of displacement are obvious in 35 Indian
communities of the Lacandona Jungle," the complaint reports.
It goes on to ask federal human rights officials to put an end to
what it says is "clearly a human rights catastrophe."

In 1978, the government designated 818,300 acres
(331,300 hectares) of the Lacandona Jungle as the Montes
Azules wildlife reserve and forbade locals from chopping down
and burning many kinds of trees. The decree also
restricted locals' use of area lands and waterways.

Zapatista supporters in the reserve have refused to
comply with the regulations for decades, and backed
a short-lived rebellion in the name of Indian rights and
socialism that killed 145 people in 12 days of fighting in
January 1994.

In an attempt to draw Zapatista leaders back to peace
negotiations that have been stalled since 1996, President Vicente Fox
closed seven jungle military bases built to surround key Zapatista
strongholds.State forces continue to patrol some areas of Chiapas, however.

An Indian Rights law that became part of Mexico's constitution last year is
supposed to grant greater autonomy to Indian communities and protect them
from some of the regulations restricting the use of their land and natural

But Thursday's complaint alleges that Mexican troops have forced hundreds of
Indian families who have tried to assert their new rights to abandon their
homes and leave the reserve.

An army spokesman in the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez confirmed that
state forces have patrolled the area within the boundaries of Montes Azules
reserve on foot and by helicopter, but he refused to comment on the groups'


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