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<nettime> Mexico urges squatters to leave sensitive jungle reserve

  En;AP;Mexico urges squatters to leave sensitive jungle reserve,May
     Date: Thu, 4 May 2000 09:12:38 -0500 (CDT)
     From: owner-chiapas95@eco.utexas.edu (Chiapas95)

NB: This is a particularly effective piece of
propaganda for the government, troubling
because of the widespread concern for the
environment not only on the left but by
apolitical citizenry everywhere. Does
anyone have hard information about fires
set by paramilitary or military forces in Chiapas?
It is important that this information come out



Mexico urges squatters to leave sensitive jungle reserve

May 2, 2000
Web posted at: 5:41 PM EDT (2141 GMT)

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico appealed to squatters in a sensitive
jungle reserve on Tuesday to move away from the area, where their
slash-and-burn farming has contributed to a rash of brush fires
that threaten a major environmental disaster.

Human rights groups demanded that the government fight the fires

antagonizing the largely Indian squatters, especially given the
reserve's location in the rebellion-torn southern state of

The current dry season threatens to fan the isolated brush fires
at the Montes Azules reserve into the kind of blaze that
devastated another reserve, Chimapalas, in 1998. The Montes Azules
-- "Blue Mountains" -- reserve is part of the last remaining
patches of the Lacandon rainforest

that once covered western Chiapas.

"These fires are intentionally set in most cases, and, added to
the deforestation and squatters' settlements in the Lacandon
Jungle, are endangering one of Mexico's unique ecosystems," the
environmentalist Group of 100 wrote in a statement.

The Environment Secretariat has requested help from federal police
to evict, or relocate, the 17 squatters camps that have sprung up
in the reserve. The squatters are mainly Indians, and support runs
high in the area for the leftist Zapatista rebels.

The Group of 100 agreed the fires must be fought, but stopped
short of calling for the eviction of the squatters. The group
warned against making the problem a political issue, and asked
that human rights observers accompany firefighters.

"The historical ethnocide (of Indians) cannot justify an
'eco-cide' that

would make history, because the first victims of such destruction
would be the Indians themselves," the group said.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security, was quick
to promise it would not attempt a military-style raid on the
camps, or use the problem as a pretext to weaken the rebel

Rather, it said in a statement Tuesday, it was trying to negotiate
with the squatters.

"The negotiations have two goals: to offer better places (for the
settlers), and to protect the nature reserve," it said.

The Lacandon reserve, which includes rain forest, is located in
Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border, near where the
Zapatistas staged a brief armed uprising in 1994 to demand greater
democracy and Indian rights.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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