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<nettime> Macabre Strategy War in Chiapas, May 09

To: chiapas95@eco.utexas.edu
From: owner-chiapas95@eco.utexas.edu (Chiapas95)

From: irlandesa <irlandesa@compuserve.com>
Subject: FZLN: Comprehensive Background Material on Current Situation

Originally published in Spanish by the Zapatista Front of National
Liberation (FZLN)
Translated by irlandesa for the FZLN

With War There Can be No Democracy
We Shall Impose Peace With Justice and Dignity in Chiapas

Information File

Over the last few weeks the federal government has continued positioning
its pieces on its macabre game board of total war against the zapatista
indigenous communities.  All of their actions having to do with the state
of Chiapas, whether they be political, military, economic or social, are
being channeled in this direction, that of open war. 

It has reached such a point that it would appear that the government has
decided, owing to the combination of factors being presented by the
current political, economic and social climate, that this is the moment
for doing away with the indigenous insurgence, whether in order to
encourage the fear vote in the coming elections, or to smooth the future
government's path regarding the Chiapas conflict. 

We shall see, then, what these different scenarios are which the Mexican
government is putting into place so that they will have a pretext for
openly attacking the EZLN: 

The Federal Army

The Federal Army's February offensive of 1995 set the pattern for the
militarization of the State (see Map 2), not just through the positions
taken after February 9 of that year, but also because it opened a period
of expansion of positions by the army itself and by other security forces,
such as the federal and state police and paramilitary groups. 

The processes of paramilitarization began during the period from 1995 to
1998, as did the establishment of the first broad circles around the
conflict zone, through the establishment of new military installations
around the State of Chiapas, the first positions around the Montes Azules
Biosphere Reserve, the establishment of advance lines in the Selva and
police expansion in Los Altos. 

1999 marked the beginning of a new stage in the military offensive.  The
Federal Army entered directly in to the Northern region of the Montes
Azules Reserve and the areas surrounding it. Police presence was
simultaneously expanded and intensified, covering a broad area of Los
Altos, the Coast, all of the Soconusco region and the Zoque Area. 

(See Maps) 

We are not including in the maps 39 positions sited in 33 communities
which were not able to be located in any cartographic source: : Ejido
Zaragoza, Ri'o Euseba and Rancho La Soledad, municipality of Las
Margaritas, El Jolochero, El Parai'so, Monte Alegre, San Pedro Buenavista,
Yolomax, Ucuxil, Rancho El Banco, Monte Alegre, Cruz Grande, Chajulicho,
Rancho Mosil, Ri'o Euseba, Rancho Nuevo, El Corozal, Amatitla'n y
Monteflor, municipality of Ocosingo, Tijera Cafe', municipality of Bochil,
Aurora Chica, Quextic, X'oyep and Takiukum, municipality of Chenalho', San
Juan La Libertad, municipality of Jitotol, Tera'n, municipality of San
Cristo'bal de las Casas, Masano', municipality of Tapalapa, El Forti'n,
municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Zaquila', municipality of Chilo'n,
Copalar y Chicoase'n, municipality of Tuxtla Gutie'rrez, Crucero Oninajab,
municipality of Tzimol, and Tonala', municipality of Tapachula. 

In 1998 CIEPAC reported the presence of 300 positions of various types of
repressive forces in the State of Chiapas.  This year, 2000, however,
there are at least 681 positions, of which 291 are police positions, 39
immigration police ones, 313 Federal Army, Air Force and Navy (of which,
39 correspond to 33 locations which we have not been able to identify in
various regional maps).  Locating the physical positions of these control
points is not sufficient, since all of these forces are continuously
moving along corridors of influence, such as those of the Mixed Operations
Bases and the Army's strategic routes, as noted by Jorge Luis Sierra.  The
forces of the 15 paramilitary groups should also be noted, active in at
least 26 municipalities in the State. 

The strategy of military, police and paramilitary saturation of a region
of such dimensions carries an excessive cost for our country.  The social
and economic costs of these hundreds of repressive positions make no sense
in the long term.  They only make sense from the perspective of a brutal
attack against indigenous communities in the area. 

Increase in Number of Positions of Repressive Forces By Year
Year    Police  Immigration     Army, Air Force 
and Navy
1993    20      14      16
1994    6       1       5
1995    3       -       52
1996    2       -       9
1997    21      3       42
1998    16      7       26
1999    11      5       99
2000    189     2       14
Total   268     32      263

Note: Not included in the table -because the date is missing in which the
repressive forces were positioned in a particular location- 32 police
positions, 10 immigration positions y 102 positions for the Mexican
Federal Army, Air Force and Navy. 

It is worth emphasizing that the two most significant military increases -
apart from the military offensive of February 9, 1995 - took place
beginning in 1997, along with provocations, massacres and attempts to end
all possibility of dialogue.  It should be emphasized that the greatest
military increases took place in 1999.  And, in just the first four months
of 2000, the number of police positions has almost tripled.  Finally, the
increases of 1998, 1999 and 2000 have occurred during the periods of
drought and fires in those years. 

The Military Encirclements and the Importance of San Quinti'n

It is well known that an important part of the strategy followed by the
federal Army against the EZLN has been the acquisition of numerous methods
of air transport, as well as the construction of roads which allow an ever
greater and better access to zapatista areas.  As part of that, the Army
has proposed the closing of various highway circuits, establishing a
series of progressive concentric circles, as well as the encirclement of
various parts of the Selva. 

It can be confirmed, in this regard, that the development of highway
construction policies by the federal Army following the zapatista
uprising, has gone through at least four different stages:  1. - The
definitive closing of the border highway (or external circle);  2. - The
closing of a great interior circuit;  3. - The closing of a circuit which
surrounds the RIBMA and 4. - The closing of an internal micro-circuit. 

The border highway is the highway circuit that allows the broadest
possible means of surrounding the entire Selva Lacandona.  Connecting the
city of Palenque to the south with the village of Flor de Cacao, in
Marque's de Comillas, and this village with Lagos de Montebello and
Comita'n to the west.  Comita'n connects directly with Palenque through
the highway to Ocosingo, which passes by Margaritas and Altamirano.  One
must remember, in addition, that this highway - the portion of it that is
parallel to the Usumacinta River - also serves military logistics,
allowing the introduction of the Navy by water. 

The next key step was the closing of a second circuit, an interior one
this time, which was achieved through the improvement and inter-connection
of two stretches of highway going from Ocosingo to San Quinti'n, crossing
the ca~adas of Patihuitz and Betania, and from Las Margaritas to San
Quinti'n, passing through the towns of Nuevo Momo'n, Vicente Guerrero,
Guadalupe Tepeyac, La Realidad and Guadalupe los Altos.  The circle was
only able to be truly closed when the bridge crossing the Jatate' River in
San Quinti'n was built. 

It would appear that two new highway projects exist, which could improve
this interior circuit.  One connecting Guadalupe Los Altos with El Eden,
which - in addition to surrounding La Realidad from the south - would also
allow more rapid access from Las Margaritas to San Quinti'n.  Another
improvement which was attempted last year was the opening of a new road
from San Quinti'n to Monte Libano, passing through Amador Herna'ndez.  It
was a route that was attempting to skirt the Montes Azules by way of the
Agua Azul ca~ada. 

The rumor has also circulated of the opening of a new highway that would
link the town of Vicente Guerrero with Francisco Go'mez (La Garrucha).  If
the existence of this project were to be confirmed, an internal
micro-triangle would be opened, which would link Francisco Go'mez with San
Quinti'n and with Vicente Guerrero (passing through La Realidad). 

What is striking in the above mentioned program of highway circuits is the
intention of strengthening the strategic character of the town of San
Quinti'n, as the physical center of a great geographic depression made up
of the confluence of numerous ca~adas, large and small, and of the rivers
which run through them:  Santo Domingo, La Revancha, Dolores, Caliente,
Euseba, Tzaconeja', Colorado, Jatate' and Perlas.  All of these rivers end
up converging in the heart of this depression in the Lacantu'n River. 

The above described road development turns San Quinti'n into a central
point, from which six routes radiate (towards El Ede'n and towards La
Realidad, both to the west; another towards Francisco Go'mez and towards
Monte Libano, in the north; another towards Lago Miramar in the east and,
finally, towards Maravilla Tenejapa, in the south).  Control of the
successive concentric circuits corresponds to the enormous strengthening
of this radial center of military power. 

Although this great depression in the south of the Ca~adas is a region
relatively poor in oil, it is, nonetheless, the most central point for
achieving rapid access to the main oil regions of the entire Selva:  in
Marque's de Comillas and on the border with Guatemala, the Lacantu'n
deposits and two, both named Mena, the great deposits denounced by the
EZLN in Valle Amador.  In the Agua Azul ca~ada, in the Sierra Cruz de
Plata, in the Patihuitz ca~ada and in the Corralche'n ca~ada, various
reserves correspond to what Pemex has called the Ocosingo Region.  The
same thing is true of hydroelectric resources in the region, in that San
Quinti'n will facilitate access to the 20 prospects proposed by the CFE. 

Regarding biodiversity, San Quinti'n is the main point of entry to the
biosphere reserve, because of the way in which it connects with Lago
Miramar and the entire relatively colonized and deforested region of
Montes Azules.  San Quinti'n is also the best intermediate point between
the bio-prospecting bases of Chajul and El Ocote.  Insofar as the southern
depression of the ca~adas is made up by the confluence of numerous rivers,
it has the best agricultural and demographic capacity. 

In addition to the fact that San Quinti'n offers rapid access to any of
the nuclei of strategic wealth, it also offers the best center for general
military control of the basin, due to its easy access to the south and to
the border region of Amparo Agua Tinta, and to the north, for the way in
which it complements the dense barrier of the Agua Azul Ca~ada. 

Contrary to all its statements and propaganda acts, the federal
Government, far from carrying out the signed Accords and building a
negotiating policy with the EZLN, has, in fact, implemented an
extraordinarily costly military deployment, systematically and
continuously, which demonstrates its true warlike vocation.  Up to now,
the only solution to the chiapaneco conflict which the government has
promoted has been military. 

The So-called "Ecological Front" 

The Fires in Chiapas, Alibi for War

1. - An inter-institutional commission (made up of the SRA, Profepa and
the Chiapas government), an International Committee for Forestry
Safeguarding (including, curiously, in addition to Profepa and SEMARNAP,
the SEDENA, the PGR, the PFC, the PJE, the State Council of Public
Security and the Department of Government), the SEMARNAP itself, Profepa,
the Department of Government, a group of 8 ecological organizations, the
WWF (World Wildlife Federation) and the PFP itself - in addition to some
journalists on the payroll - have all been spending their time over the
last few months orchestrating a campaign of vague, ambiguous,
contradictory and - on not a few occasions, scandalously false -
statements concerning a purported crisis regarding the fires in the Selva
region of Montes Azules, in the very heart of the chiapaneco region of the

These bodies have seen the current national wave of fires as a great
opportunity for presenting the residents of the Selva Lacandona as persons
who clear, set fire to and devastate forests when they prepare their lands
for cultivation. 

One important fact, however, does not fit this alibi.  Anyone who consults
one of the web pages of the observation satellite (GOES) 
(http://www.cira.colostate.edu/RAMM/Rmsdsol/MXFIRE.html) will be able to
observe daily images which show how the current fires in the Mexican
southeast are taking place outside the area of conflict this year,
including the Comprehensive Reserve of the Montes Azules Biosphere
 This renders the published statements of the WWF - as well as the
response to them by Wilfrido Robles (La Jornada, April 30, 2000),
justifying the entrance of the PFP into Montes Azules - absolutely false. 

Beyond the lies are the ambiguous statements by the Secretary of the
Environment, Julia Carabias.  She may have contradicted Wilfrido Robles
regarding SEMARNAP's having never requested the PFP's entrance into Montes
Azules.  She has, however, been following the WWF's steps in considering
the indigenous families residing in the area to be the main destructive
factor of the forest wealth of the region, even going so far as to say
that "if [the communities] do not accept a negotiated settlement, the law
will be enforced."  (La Jornada, May 4, 2000, p. 16) 

One strange aspect of this line of reasoning is that, even as the
Secretary of the Environment complains about the SEMARNAP's few human
forces and meager monetary resources for putting out these invisible fires
(300 brigade members, 15 brigade chiefs from the Sedena and two
helicopters), she gives no thought to these campesino families as being
the first persons interested in these fires not occurring.  It is hard to
imagine the existence of any better fire-fighting force when such
disasters take place. 

It is strange, then, that the Department of the Environment is not
concerned about the defense of these communities (among other things,
creators and guardians of biodiversity, of the genetic banks as well as of
their traditional knowledge), while transnational companies and
international research centers smack their lips when they go in to the
area to investigate and to patent genomes and the indigenous knowledge
concerning them. 

2. - But those who are today wrapping themselves in the green flag of
saving the Montes Azules biosphere reserve are also strangely forgetting
about the irresponsible and incoherent manner in which the reserve has
been being administered over the last thirty years. 

In the first place, there is the manner in which the protection decree of
the Lacandona Forest Reserve in 1972, and of the RIBMA in 1978, had to do
at that time with the policies of land grants, which were, above all,
concerned with preventing access by large indigenous migratory flows into
the areas most rich in precious woods, which were, at that time,
considered to be the loot of the powerful.  Owing to that concern, an
immense grant of 600,000 hectares was made to just 66 Lacandon family
heads, which allowed the real activities of lumber companies - who were
involved in the extraction of much illegal wood - to be covered up for
some time.  This is a problem, incidentally, which is still going on, with
local PRIs and other illegal businesses, in collusion with security
forces, in full view of the federal army itself, continuing to take out
high quality wood in abundance from various areas of the Selva. 

It is important to remember, in addition, that the RIBMA's borders - so
angrily defended today by innumerable officials and purported ecologists -
have to do with a rather doubtful "protection" policy, in that they have
always been subordinate to oil exploration.  The entire world is aware
that this kind of activity [oil exploration] is one of the primary
destructive agents of the environment in this and in other rich
bio-regions of the Mexican southeast.  (Cf. Alejandro Toledo, How To
Destroy Paradise) 

If one were to reconstruct the history of what has been chosen, what has
been left to the side and what has been returned as a natural protected
area in the Lacandona, one can observe how, over the last quarter of a
century, all natural protection has been sacrificed to the interests which
oil companies (Mexican and foreign) have had for exploration, exploitation
and speculation in the area.  As evidence of this, we have: 

1.- The halving of the original contours of the Lacandona reserve (from
600,000 hectares to 331,000), exactly in all those areas in which they had
thought they could detect possible important oil reserves.  The first
version of Montes Azules, in 1978, left PEMEX free access in the large oil
exploration areas of Ocosingo, Lacantu'n and Prospecto San Fernando. 

2. - The brutal deforestation which has taken place over the last fifteen
years in Marque's de Comillas, where one can see an amazing coincidence
between all of Pemex's drilling areas, or where the Canadian oil company,
Seine River Resources, has publicly and precisely recognized the existence
of important oil reserves. 

3. - The development of the most important oil region in the entire Selva
in part of the RIBMA's so-called Buffer Area, between the Corralche'n and
Livingston sierras, when the entire Ca~adas region - as Victor Manuel
Toledo observed (Cf. Zapata Ecolo'gico), had initially been considered to
be a region of great biodiversity, greater, even, than that of RIBMA. 

4. - The suspiciously belated decree of the Lacantu'n Biosphere Reserve
and of the Flora and Fauna Reserve of Chan Kin, as well as the Natural
Monuments of Yaxchila'n and Bonampak in 1992, just when oil exploration
had clearly revealed that the possibilities in the area were low.  (It
should be remembered, in this regard, that 1992 was the year Pemex ended
its long exploration work, began in the mid-seventies, generously paying
off the majority of their personnel who had been witnesses to the large
finds of great oil reserves in the Ocosingo and Marque's de Comillas

5. - The strange conflict between the different versions of RIBMA offered
by INEGI and by the SCT and the Chiapas state government, in its far
north, very close to the extremely important bio-region located between
the lakes of El Ocotal and El Suspiro.  The worrisome differences between
the official cartographic versions, according to which the ultimate global
surface of Montes Azules varies, precisely in a problematic area reported
by confidential biological studies as an area rich in oil.  It is also
RIBMA's most important micro-region owing to its having the most abundant
biodiversity anywhere in the reserve. 

6. - The deforestation caused by the opening of new oil roads throughout
the entire Selva region (which continues advancing to this day). 

        2. - On the other hand, Alejandro Nadal (La Jornada, August 20,
1999) denounced the dangerous reforestation carried out by the military
during the previous year, because of the extraordinarily complex nature of
the kind of reforestation an area like that requires.  Environmental
attacks which are added to the destructive effects of military camps built
in the heart of the Selva, attacks which are especially intense in the new
housing centers or military mini-cities, which naturally include
commercial centers, dumps for urban waste and brothels.  This is to say
nothing of the military opening of roads, which are being added to the new
oil routes being developed continuously, and which automatically turn into
an exit route for more lumber.

Nonetheless, the use of biological war materials (the abundant bombardment
of rats and snakes, which has even caused imbalance and unease in
Guatemala;  the copious application of defoliants and other chemical
substances in all areas of the Selva;  and the introduction of
transgenetic maize in an area whose biodiversity is considered as one of
the most important in the world because of its domestic species) and,
above all, the fact that Montes Azules is being considered as the scenario
for the final denouement of warlike confrontations.  These are factors
which put the conservation of the Selva in jeopardy, not fifteen years
hence, but over the next few months. 

As if all the foregoing were not enough, Montes Azules has been considered
to be a privileged area for the irregular activities of bio-prospecting
and bio-piracy by pharmaceutical and transnational environmental
companies.  An example of this is the current scandal concerning the
connection between the College of the Southern Border (Ecosur) and
bio-prospecting activities by the University of Georgia and the Gales
company, which deals in nano-technology, Molecular Nature Limited, as well
as the eco-tourism centers and bio-prospecting of the Savia (formerly
Pulsar) company, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy
(TNC).  [They are located in] the rich area of the Ocotal and Suspiro
lakes, which is, curiously, the most heavily militarized place in the
entire reserve. 

Rounding off this panorama, also participating in Montes Azules are North
American conservation organizations (which exchange the country's
international financial debt for the right to participate in management of
the environment), such as TNC and CI, who are participating in its
management and financing.  It is, however, publicly known in the
international media that CI - an international administrator of more than
60 protected natural areas in Latin America and Africa - is pushing -
along with genetic engineering firms from California such as Hyseq - for
the privatization of our main protected natural areas.  Meanwhile, TNC, in
the United States alone, already owned two and a half million hectares of
land in the early nineties.  It is one of the most powerful land owners in
that country.  All transnational NGOs who are not asking anything of
research centers such as Ecosur, who are also going to a lot of trouble to
promote the country's participation in North American privatization
programs for bi-national water basins, such as the Usumacinta River, when
they are not entering into pacts with North American universities and
transnational companies to facilitate the isolation and patent
registration of thousands of active rudiments. 

It is not surprising, then, that on April 28 of this year it was the World
Wildlife Foundation which raised its voice the most loudly demanding the
expulsion of indigenous communities settled or displaced towards Montes
Azules.  This gave Wilfrido Robles an international guideline for
justifying the beginning a serious conflict in Montes Azules.  All of this
was going on while a group of eight environmental organizations - most
certainly headed by the CI - were threatening the Secretary of the
Environment with withdrawing their administrative funds for Montes Azules
if the Department of the Environment did not immediately join in the
campaign for expulsion of the chiapaneco campesinos. 

It is odd that many national ecologists and intellectuals - instead of
complaining about the flagrant intervention in an issue and region that
are of great strategic importance for sovereignty and national peace -
have joined in the lynching campaign against the indigenous communities of
Montes Azules. 

It is equally odd that those who say they are concerned about the future
of the Selva Lacandona have not come out against the whole web of
irregularities that the management of this biodiversity reserve has woven.
That, even without taking into account the fact that ecologists should
naturally be the automatic enemies of warlike solutions, if not because of
the persons that the federal government plans to assassinate, but then at
least for the butterflies which are going to be lost. 

Is it truly an error to politicize the ecological question?  When the
SEMARNAP lends itself to opening doors for those who are promoting the
privatization of national genetic banks, to the irrational management of
protected natural areas, as well as to playing into the hands of the worst
forces in the country and to the danger of an imminent war, brandishing
"ecological" arguments like a clubIs it not globalization which is forcing
us to choose between private conservation of nature and being against
humanity, or, rather, in favor of human life as the vitalizing heart of
the entire biosphere? 

Given the fact that the Selva Lacandona has never been a virgin natural
space, in that the Mayan civilization has inhabited it and cultivated it
for thousands of years:  is it necessary to remember that people are also
biodiversity?  Issues as recent as the world privatization of freshwater
(with the consequences of wars and the deaths of thousands of millions of
human beings being forecast within two decades), or also the privatization
of the human genetic code...Do they not present a dilemma, both in and
outside our country, between radically human ecology and neo-nazi ecology? 

No to the PFP's entering into Montes Azules.  No to the destruction the
army is wreaking on the reserve.  No to the fals e reforestation.  No to
the political manipulation of fires.  No to the opening of roads.  No to
delivering this strategic resource to Conservation International and to
Pulsar.  But, above all, no to using the conflict in Chiapas as the means
by which the PRI thinks it will overcome the irreversible political crisis
being created by the current election process.  No to the war.  Instead of
that, yes to conservation of biodiversity, which begins with the
conservation of our indigenous culture, old and new.  Yes to designing
intelligent strategies of conservation which will allow the gradual
enriching of the soil, in a planned manner, doing without the risks of
clearing/planting/burning.  But, above all, yes to the participatory and
inclusive management of everyone in our biodiversity and our country.  In
the same way, yes to the carrying out of the San Andre's Accords and the
building of a peace with justice and dignity. 

The Paramilitaries

One of the most central elements of counterinsurgency in Chiapas has been
the establishment and development of paramilitary groups in various areas
of the state.  The term paramilitary notes the existence of a direct
relationship between armed civilian groups and the armed forces of the
State.  This relationship can range from tolerance of their existence, to
the training and direction of these groups by the military and police. 
These paramilitary groups carry out a series of repressive tasks,
assassination and terrorism in service to the State.  They seek to clear
the military and police institutions of responsibility for these acts,
placing a smokescreen around the Army in order to prevent their indictment
and denunciation for human rights violations.  The existence of these
groups has been noted by various social and human rights organizations, as
well as having been publicized in the national press.  A Department of
Defense document, published by Proceso, noted:  "(...)Military operations
include the training of local self defense forces, so that they can
participate in security and development programs."  "In cases where such
self defense forces do not exist, it is necessary to create them."  The
Sedena forecast:  "That the friendly population defends what is theirs,
and it is especially valid for cattle ranchers and small owners."  The
strategic-operational objective:  "To destroy the EZLN's will to fight,
isolating it from the civilian population and to secure their support for
the operations."  The tactical objective is:  "To destroy and/or disrupt
the EZLN's political-military structure."  (Chiapas Campaign Plan 1994,
Proceso, 1105, January 4, 1998, p. 7) 

The relationship between these groups and the armed forces has been
documented in various testimonies from communities in the areas where they
are operating, as well as by persons who once were members of those
 In several cases government financing of these paramilitary bodies has
been documented.  Their modus operandi include various massacres,
including the one carried out in Acteal.  One of their central objectives,
as noted by their actions as well as by counterinsurgency manuals, is to
provoke terror and to force the displacement of residents who have not
demonstrated their support for the government. 

The first denunciation of the existence of these groups was made by the
EZLN, in a communique' signed by Subcomandante Marcos on August 29, 1994. 
Their presence gathered greater force following the failure of the
February 19, 1995 military offensive. 

The existence of at least 15 armed groups in the State has been reported,
of which at least 10 are clearly acting as paramilitaries, operating in
the following areas in Chiapas: 

a)  The corridor which runs from the municipalities of Salto de Agua,
Tila, Sabanilla, Tumbala', Yajalo'n, Chilo'n, Oxchuc, San Cristo'bal to
Venustiano Carranza and the border region. 

b)  The areas of Palenque, Ocosingo, Altamirano and Las Margaritas in the

c)  The Center of the State, the Central Valleys, the Fraylesca and a part
of the Isthmus-Coastal region. 

All these areas are, oddly, regions which are heavily militarized and
which have large numbers of Public Security police present. 

The main paramilitary groups, as reported by the communities, human rights
groups, social organizations and various political forces in the state,

Development Peace and Justice:  Began organizing in 1995.  Operates in
Tumbala', Sabanilla, Tila, Salto de Agua, Yajalo'n and Palenque.  It is
headed by PRI Deputy Samuel Sa'nchez Sa'nchez.  Its members are PRI
activists, the majority belonging to Teachers Campesino Solidarity

Los Chinchulines:  Appeared in May of 1996 in Bachajo'n, although they
were known of before, under the name "Luis Donaldo Colosio" Revolutionary
Youth Front, which had the firm support of former Governor Elmar Setzer. 
Their training center is in the Joibe' predio, in Chilo'n.  It is
estimated to be made up of about 250 young PRIs, equipped with weapons for
the exclusive use of the Army.  They have influence in Chilo'n, Yajalo'n
and Ocosingo.  Former PRI Deputy Rafael Ceballos Cancino has been pointed
out as their founder and leader. 

Anti-Zapatista Indigenous Revolutionary Movement (MIRA):  Its existence
was learned of in October of 1997.  Its main center of operations is in
 Federal PRI Deputy Norberto Santi's Lo'pez has been held responsible for
its creation.  Its members belong to the PRI and to the National
Coordinadora for Indian Peoples (CNPI).  It has influence in Las
Margaritas, Oxchuc, San Juan Cancuc, Sitala', Ocosingo, Altamirano and

MIRA is currently involved in the entire government campaign to dislocate
communities from the Montes Azules region, under the pretext that the area
must be "ecologically protected." 

Red Mask:  They have been known about since 1994, but they began to act
publicly following the suspension of the San Andre's Dialogues, in
September of 1996.  Their members come from the communities of Tivo',
Santiago el Pinar, San Andre's and Callejo'n, in San Juan Chamula.  Their
bases are members of the PRI.  Human rights groups as well as the EZLN
have identified them as being responsible for the Acteal massacre. 

San Bartolome' de los Llanos Alliance:  Founded in early 1995 by PRI
affiliated activists, it has a presence in the municipality of Venustiano
Carranza.  Federal PRI Deputy Eucario Orantes was present during its

Los Quintos:  Operates in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza.  Their
activities have been reported since April of 1998.  They have rifles and
wear black uniforms, with boots, backpacks, radio communication equipment,
and they are masked.  Their methods of behavior and movement indicate that
they have had military training. 

Los Pu~ales:  This armed group began organizing prior to June of 1997,
under the command of Fausto Go'mez Di'az, a shopkeeper and businessperson
from La Floresta, municipality of Comita'n, with the support of the
federal Army and the Public Security police.  It has some 30 members who
operate in the municipalities of Comita'n and Amatenango del Valle.  They
receive training, financing and weaponry from Public Security and the
Army.  They have been linked with local drug trafficking. 

Los Aguilares:  They have been known about since 1994 in the Chilo'n area. 
Partly a group of criminals, partly white guards and paramilitaries, they
maintain relations with Peace and Justice and with the Chinchulines. 

OCOPECH:  The Popular Campesino Workers Organization of the State of
Chiapas, affiliated with the PT, it acts more as a shock group than as
paramilitaries.  Operates in the region of Huitiupa'n and in Simojovel and
El Bosque, with high powered weapons. 

Los Tomates:  They have been known to be operating in the Bochil region
since 1998. 

Los Pla'tanos:  Operate in El Bosque.  It is a group made up of 80 young
PRI Tzotziles, trained by the Federal Army and by the police.  Their ties
to Deputies Norberto Santi's Lo'pez and Alonso Lo'pez Go'mez, both from
the PRI, have been noted. 

Los Chentes:  With headquarters in the irregular settlement of 'La
Libertad,' ten kilometers from Tuxtla Gutie'rrez, this armed group has
been denounced various times by the chiapaneco press.  They have been held
responsible for various crimes and have been tied to Mario Landeros, Mario
Arturo Couti~o, Jack Demo'stenes and Uriel Jarqui'n. 

Los Carrancistas:  Little is known of them, except that they have their
base of operations in the municipality of Suchiate. 

Frente Civil:  Their creation was announced in the local newspaper, Cuarto
Poder, on April 12, 1998, "in order to counteract the actions of the
Tierra y Libertad Rebel Municipality."  They operate in 17 communities in
the official municipality of La Independencia. 

Clandestine Revolutionary Organization:  Has been acting in the
municipality of Sitala', in the Selva-Northern region, since 1997.  They
have been noted to carry rifles and have the support of the governor. 
They are made up of members of the PRI. 

Drug Trafficking

Two weeks ago some news media broadcast statements by a captured drug
trafficker in Brazil, who said he was an admirer of the EZLN and that he
had even had contacts with the zapatista comandancia during a trip he had
made to Chiapas.  Despite the fact that a few days later some Government
officials said there was no evidence linking the EZLN with drug
trafficking, either Brazilian or national, it was also announced in the
press that the PGR would be sending some of its agents to Brazil in order
to interrogate the detained drug trafficker concerning his purported ties
to the EZLN. 

Once more the double language and the maintaining of this channel of
propaganda constantly open, in order to try to link the zapatistas with
drug trafficking and thus seek to discredit them, and, at a given moment,
justify a "legal" action against them. 

Immigration Policy at the Service of the War

International visitors expelled from Chiapas: 

. Between February 1995 and December of 1997, there were more than 200
international visitors expelled.
. Between February of 1998 until December of 1998, the Mexican government
expelled 162 internationals.
. From January of 1999 until March of 1999, there were 7 international
visitors expelled.
. In the first months of 2000, January and February, there were 49
internationals expelled.

One of the last expulsions was directed against Ted Lewis, Director of the
Mexico Program of the North American organization Global Exchange.  This
is an organization which has not only helped the indigenous communities of
our country in economic and social projects, but has also played a very
important role in disseminating, at a national and international level,
the Mexican government's human rights violations against the indigenous
and against the people in general.  Similarly, the previous year Tom
Hansen and Peter Brown, among others, were expelled.  They are both North
Americans who have done much solidarity work and who have supported
educational, social and cultural projects in the indigenous communities. 

Over the last few days, the National Immigration Institute (INM), an
agency in the Department of Government, has "unleashed a persecution
campaign against foreigners visiting the indigenous communities of
Chiapas, through a massive campaign of citations"  (La Jornada, 5/5/2000). 
The campaign is being tightened, thus, against foreign observers,
uncomfortable witnesses to the warlike actions of the Mexican government. 

The Daily War:  Testimonies by Observers

During the month of April, dozens of Mexican citizens participated in the
civil society brigades which were travelling through the indigenous
communities in resistance in Chiapas, in order to live side by side with
them, to bring them material solidarity and to participate in their
educational and health projects.  We are presenting below testimonies from
two of the many caravans which went to the indigenous communities, that of
the Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN), and that of the
Committee of Support for the Northern Region, the Jose' Tila Caravan. 


The activities in preparation for war which the government and the federal
army have put in place could be verified by members of the FZLN in all the
communities they visited, in the North, as well as in Los Altos and in the
Selva.  Aggressive checkpoints, paramilitaries on the roads and around the
communities, low overflights, the proliferation of military control
points, threatening convoy runs, etcetera, all allowed us to conclude that
what is going on in Chiapas today is not just the same attempts to wear
down the communities which the federal and state governments have been
maintaining over the last few years.  It is, instead, the prelude to
something greater: 
 the imposition of a new open war in the Mexican southeast against the
zapatista communities and the entire country. 

We want to warn the Mexican population and international public opinion
about this situation, knowing that only social mobilization will be able
once again to halt the war.  In order to accomplish this, we have gathered
below excerpts from the reports which different compa~eros and compa~eras
from the FZLN have written, concerning what they saw and experienced over
recent days in the different communities and regions. 

Community of San Jose' del Rio.  Selva Region.  Militarization has reached
unprecedented proportions, troop movements are dramatic, military material
seen in this area represent the latest acquisitions by the Mexican
government, very sophisticated and in very large quantities.  The trip
from San Cristo'bal de Las Casas to this community was literally strewn
with military camps in a clear fighting stance, tremendously rigid, with
rifles drawn, very tense.  Residents informed us that government soldiers
are positioned not only in the villages and communities, but also in the
mountain, that is, not just on zapatista support base land, but on EZLN

The paramilitaries are acting with an impunity never before seen.  They
are seen along the highways, collecting taxes from those who pass by. 
They are extremely belligerent and are present in large numbers,
increasingly better armed and better organized. 

We were able to directly observe how, after spraying a liquid from a plane
onto the community's coffee plantations, they were left completely dried
out and the land totally damaged.  There was a plague of rats in the
community unlike anything they had ever known before.  As the soldiers
passed by the community in their vans, they spat at us and sprayed a
liquid at us with syringes.  Perhaps it was only water, but the purpose
was to terrify and to sow permanent fear among the residents. 

Community of Oventic.  On April 7, in a clear act of provocation by the
federal army, a helicopter threatened to land on the highway which is on
one side of the Aguascalientes II.  This provoked great tension and
nervousness in the people in the community. 

Despite the fact that the federal and state governments are saying that
everything is normal in Chiapas, there are more and more members of the
army and public and judicial police in this region of Los Altos.  They are
sowing fear and harassing the women, children, men and old ones of this
community.  The people are afraid to leave their houses out of fear that
they might do something to them, causing many of them to stop planting,
and, consequently, hunger and poverty are growing. 

During our talks with people in the community, they mentioned to us that
they feared an action was going to be taken against them, given that a few
weeks ago interim governor Roberto Albores Guille'n equipped the
paramilitary group Peace and Justice with more weapons, in order to follow
his counterinsurgency plan against the zapatista communities. 

Community of Roberto Barrios.  The harassment being experienced in this
community by the soldiers and, above all, by paramilitaries, is daily and
increasingly worse, even being extended to the compa~eros and compa~eras
in solidarity who are visiting the town. 

This is confirmed by the sexual attack experienced by an FZLN compa~era
during her stay in Roberto Barrios.  One day the compa~era went down to
bathe in the river which is next to the peace camp.  On her return she was
stopped by a boy who was later able to be identified as Sebastia'n Me'ndez
Herna'ndez, 16 or 17 years old, a PRI and alleged paramilitary.  He wanted
to embrace and kiss her, and he did not allow her to pass by.  The
compa~era finally managed to push him away, to leave that part of the
village and to return to a secure site in order to denounce the
 Fortunately this situation was not any worse, but it is the situation
being experienced there every day:  provocations, especially against the
women, who are not able to go by themselves to the river, nor take food to
the fields, etcetera. 

Community of Nicola's Ruiz.  Compa~eros who visited this community were
able to verify the denuncias previously made by the community itself, that
on April 25 of this year the government of Roberto Albores Guille'n
attempted to repeat an aggressive operation against this community,
similar to that of June 3, 1998.  On that day a helicopter landed on the
football field, and there were low overflights in the municipal seat, as
well as the presence of 12 convoys of Public Security forces barely 6
kilometers from the village. 

The 600 comuneros, legally recognized in the National Agrarian Registry,
are devoted only to working the lands which legally belong to them in
order to support their families.  Nonetheless, a small group of
individuals, who are members of the official party, are provoking
violence.  They are headed by Fe'lix Moreno Gonza'lez, Abel Lo'pez Zu~iga,
Jorge Di'az Jime'nez and Mario Moreno Gonza'lez.  When these persons
provide any false argument whatsoever against the comuneros, the state
government immediately sets in motion all necessary force for any action
against peace in this municipality, in order to intimidate and threaten
the population, enjoying complete impunity. 

San Andres Sacamch'en.  More than a year after zapatista communities
recovered from PRI hands the place where the government and the EZLN and
their communities signed the San Andre's Accords, it is still possible to
observe the rotation of children, women and men who come, from distant
communities, some several days journey by foot, in order to carry out
their guard duties at the agreed sit-in. 

Their mission is to preserve indigenous sovereignty in that place, the
space of encuentro and word, symbol of hope, of the possibility of
dialogue as a means for resolving controversies between Mexicans.  Despite
rain, cold, the rugged terrain, the cost such displacement involves, the
military checkpoints and their interrogations, their threats, their risks,
despite the rapes of women by soldiers and paramilitaries, despite the
detention, torture and jailing of some men, the people continue to arrive. 

One can see the winding human column descending down the mountain. 
Maintaining this sacred place represents the demand for carrying out what
was agreed to here.  It demonstrates the will to remain firm in the fight
to guarantee a dignified place in our patria for the Indian peoples and
the willingness for dialogue. 

For their part, the government responds by delivering more weapons to
paramilitary groups, allowing them to search vehicles, interrogating
passengers about their religion, political party, their community, their
leaders and the organizations to which they belong.  Photographs in hand,
they check whether or not any community representatives or indigenous
authorities might be found among them. 

Jose' Tila Caravan

The caravaneros were in the Tila region for one week, carrying out health,
education, recreation and civil guard duties in six communities in this
region, which is being ravaged by paramilitary groups. 

One caravanero noted that it was initially difficult to make contact with
the minors, because, given "the conditions of war in which they exist,
they are very introverted, withdrawn, silent and sad.  It took a lot of
effort to get them to start playing games, but, after two days, they would
go to the caravaneros from eight in the morning in order to play marbles,
and with the balls and the games which we had brought them, or in order to
color with crayons.  They drew themselves with the crayons, their houses,
planes and even soldiers, and they also collaborated in creating a mural
which they painted in the Jolnishtie' clinic." 

Another member of the caravan added that the conditions in which the
indigenous from the six communities were living were extremely precarious,
since they are almost completely lacking in health and educational
services, potable water, drainage, electricity and transportation, as well
as adequate housing, since they are living in shacks made of laminate or
wood, with earth floors. 

In a talk they had with women from Patazpal, they explained to them that
they did not understand why "the bad government is treating us like
animals," and that they were anguished over the lack of work and food and
because the children were ill with "fevers," and because they were
practically being held as hostages, since the paramilitaries would not
allow them to move in certain areas. 

Regarding the lack of food, the women reiterated that the children were
going hungry.  This was owing to the fact that their diet consists of
tortillas, beans, rice, maize and pozol (a beverage made with water and
tortilla meal which they give to the children like milk). 

Regarding the continuous violation of freedom of movement and the
intimidation and hostility they are experiencing from the Peace and
Justice paramilitary group, they said they were living in a state of
anxiety.  They said the group's members are within the communities, and
some elements were harassing them a lot, displaying their weapons, as well
as preventing them from going to certain areas under threat of poisoning
them.  They pointed out that those men, who dress in civilian clothes and
who belong to their ethnic group, are constantly threatening their
husbands, causing them to fear for their lives when they go to work in the
fields or the bean plantings, since there have been instances where they
have been beaten up or killed. 

Another complaint in the region is the dislocation they suffered when, in
July of 1996, this paramilitary group - with the protection of state
security - entered the region, seizing their lands, burning their huts and
stealing their cattle.  Because of this they had to live in the mountain
for two years, eating wild fruits, a period during which many children and
old ones died because they were not able to tolerate those living
conditions.  They also mentioned the government's refusal to take
responsibility for the incidents and to compensate them for their

Another concern is the proliferation of infectious diseases, especially
gastrointestinal ones, mycoses and various skin infections, which are
rumored to be caused by the Army detachments dumping their sewage into the
rivers from which the communities get their drinking water (taken from La
Jornada, 5/2/2000) 

>From the Indigenous Communities

May 3, 2000 - The community of Roberto Barrios denounces sexual and death
threats experienced by promoters in that community on May 2 while they
were bathing.  A group of ten PRIs were harassing and threatening them. 
They also warned they would kill all the zapatistas who went to bathe in
the river on the following day. 

May 3, 2000 - In Rio Jordan, municipality of Salto de Agua, on April 20, a
meeting was held, called by the responsable of Rio Jordan, along with the
responsable of the S. Felipe ranch, in order to denounce a sham turning in
of weapons, hoods and bags by 86 persons, passing themselves off as
repentant zapatistas who had left the ranks of the EZLN.  The authorities
of Rio Jordan and S. Felipe ranch make note of these incidents because of
the consequences which may result from the threats they are experiencing. 


The game board for war is set there, in the Mexican southeast, although
its scope is, without any doubt, national.  The pieces for war have been
put in place by the government.  The offensive could be in a matter of
months, weeks or simply days.  It depends on us, organized civil society: 
What pieces can we put in place in order to prevent war once again and to
impose peace with justice and dignity? 

Interdisciplinary Group Against the War in Chiapas Mexico, May of 2000

More Information (to consult in cyberspace):

Second Final Report of the International Civil Commission for Human Rights
>From November 15 to November 25, 1999.

"Fray Bartolome' de las Casas" Human Rights Center

Miguel Agusti'n Pro Jua'rez Human Rights Center - PRODH

The "All Rights for All" National Network of Non-Governmental Human Rights

Enlace Civil
On this page can be found all the denuncias from the indigenous communities
against the intimida
tion, attacks, harassment and human rights violaitons by paramilitary
groups, the federal army and local government officials.

Translated by irlandesa

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