ricardo dominguez on Fri, 9 Apr 1999 04:16:43 +0200 (CEST)

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Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
April 8, 1999.


Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent
San Andres Sacamch'en, Chiapas
April 7.


Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent
San Andres Sacamch'en, Chiapas
April 7.

The seat of the Autonomous Municipal Council was taken over yesterday in a
large police operation headed by state government officials.  Because the
zapatista autonomias put up no resistance, the establishment of the PRI
council - minority but constitutional - could be celebrated as "peaceful"
by Roberto Albores Guillen's government propaganda offices.  They released
a communique noting that some national and foreign journalists had been
able to see that there were no security forces in the center of this town. 

The autonomia authorities, headed by Marcos Gonzalez Gonzalez, took refuge
in the town of Oventic, where they denounced the outrage, and they
announced a protest march for tomorrow in the municipal seat, which
continues tonight in the hands of Public Security. 

San Andres, the seat of the peace negotiations between the federal
govenrmnt and the EZLN - and also the seat of this municipality's
municipal council - with a zapatista majority since before the 1994
uprising - has today become a new hostage of the interim Chiapas

The Ongoing "Reduction"

Yesterday morning, when the municipal seat of San Andres was surrounded by
Public Security, starting at 8:00 AM, what had been circulating yesterday
as rumor and threat seemed to be being confirmed:  that the Autonomous
Municipality would be taken over on orders of governor Albores Guillen. 

As a precaution, 11 autonomia authorities remained inside the municipal
building all night long, waiting for the attack. 

Promptly at 10:00 AM the municipal building, which has been in the
possession of the autonomous government since 1995 - and which has
functioned as such this entire time - was surrounded by dozens of PRI's
and hundreds of police. 

At the same moment, Marcos Gonzalez Gonzalez, the President of the
Autonomous Municipal Council, was heading for the municipal building in
order to begin one more day of work.  Upon arriving at the plaza, he
discovered the office surrounded by police and PRIs in the act of
ocuupying it.  In fact, it had been foretold. 

The operation, headed by the Secretary of Indigenous Peoples' Affairs
(Seapi), Gustavo Moscoso Zenteno, and the State Assistant Attorney
General, Miguel Angel Yanez, erupted at that moment.  Around 300 persons
participated, among them members of the Judicial Police, of Public
Security, of Military Intelligence and of the Cisen, as well as state
officials, Public Ministry agents and PRI militants. 

Marcos Gonzalez did an about face and left, in order to avoid being
apprehended. The Autonomous Municipality judge and an assistant - who were
in the facility and who had been removed by Judicial Police - did the same

Immediately afterwards the constitutional municipal president of the PRI
minority, Marcos Diaz Nunez, took over the building in front of notary
public Fernando Reyes Cortes, who is the one who usually takes part in
these operations by the Albores government. 

And so, a few dozen PRI's, backed up by the weapons and the tear gas in
the cannisters of Public Security, took the building. 

The act, which was prepared just for the commercial television cameras,
was "peaceful," because the police encountered no reistance.  "Albores
wants to spill indigenous blood," Felipe, a representative of the
zapatista towns, said later in the afternoon during a press conference
held by the rebels in Oventic. 

The attack, considered to be a "provocation" by autonomia authorities, was
consummated when the PRI municipal person, Marcos Diaz Nunez, hung a
picture of governor Roberto Albores Guillen in the office. 

The rule of the cops was established immediately.  The office of the
'mayoles,' traditional guards, was turned into a Public Security barracks,
in order to begin another episode in the interminable 'reduction' of the
tzotziles, which began during Spanish colonial times, and which would
appear to have no end. 

The Invisible Indians

Away from where the officials, Public Security and the judicial police
were setting up the constitutional council, San Andres Plaza was empty
this morning.  Oppressively tense, under the apparent indifference of the
inscrutable residents.  This solitude was a far cry from the multitudinous
assembly celebrated here when the current Autonomous Municipal Council was
elected here, by a majority of all the places and towns in San Andres. 

In this enervated atmosphere, Moscoso Zenteno had the nerve to declare
that the building "recovered" by the government had "been unoccupied for
several years," which does not cease to amaze, since the autonomia
authorities have always served here, as all the journalists who covered
the different events in the region over the recent months (and years) can

And now it would appear they were visions.  That this place had been
abandoned for years.  That the persons working here in the running of the
Autonomous Municipality were ghosts. 

As the hundreds of indigenous who participated in the recent Holy Week
fiestas would have had to have been ghosts, and who installed ten large
looms in this same building, in order to make the cloths for the great San
Andres cross.  Given that the cloth had to be huge and woven non-stop,
five women were in charge of each loom, taking turns, so that the cloth
would be finished prior to Good Friday. 

Nothing more than these 50 embroiderers last week who made up a group that
was more numerous than those 'constitutionals' who are today
peacefully-by-force occupying the municipal facilities.  They must be the
first "visible" perssons who have occupied the place "in several years." 

Such as the PRI's, who, although few in number, are attentively filmed by
the television channels.  Twenty mothers, hauled off to the PRI Civil
Registry, went to register their children of 1, 2 and 4 years of age, some
already even walking, 15 minutes after the public forces had installed the
"constitutionals."  This registering of the children didn't serve for
much, but it did allow the television cameras to film the "normal"
functioning of services.  The police, behind them, did not appear in the

With the 'show' over, state officials, the judicial police (actually, some
stayed), national security and the Televisa and Azteca television cameras
all withdrew.  Then two (five ton) Public Security trucks arrived, full of
helmeted riot police, anti-riot shields, machine guns, tear gas and their

"We came to stay," a sergeant joked, who was playing with his tear gas
cannister, next to what had been the house of the 'mayoles' indigenous.
The PRI president himself, Marcos Diaz, stated that the Public Security
police would be staying "indefinitely." 

The municipal seat of San Andres remained in a state of siege, with police
and military controls at all its access points and an overwhelming
occupation force of riot police in the town center. 

Before noon the building that had been occupied up to yesterday by the PRI
council on the outskirts of the town had disappeared completely. There
were no longer walls, nor furniture, nor doors in the bathrooms. Just the
building's cement slab.  They will soon be able to say that this minority
council - built with state government money - never existed, and that it
had peacefully co-existed with the autonomous government until today. 

Diaz himself said this morning:  "We never had any problems with the

In the afternoon he threatened to enter the women's artisan shop of the
Autonomous Municipality, which had remained closed. 

This afternoon in Oventic the Autonomous Municipal authorities stated: 
"If any of our companero's things are lost, or if the shop is looted, the
PRI president Marcos Diaz will be held responsible." 

They also stated that the shop is legal, and that the artisans can proceed
legally against the PRI authorities in the case of any damage or

Before nightfall, the shop was already in the hands of the PRI's. 

The Pigsty

A few meters from the municipal building is the shell of the ruins of the
hall, built by the federal government, where the San Andres Accords were
signed more than three years ago.  Today it is a pigsty. 

The walls are crumbling, the ceilings falling in.  There are no doors or
windows, but there are mountains of garbage and urine stains.  There is
horrific graffiti on all sides, painted with the same brush, full of
insults to the zapatistas, of phalluses, vaginas and obscene slogans and
apparent double entendres.  They do not appear to be the work of
indigenous hands. 

The television cameras gloated over this symbol of interrupted
negotiations and incompleted accords this morning.  The dramatic effect of
the destruction is undeniable. 

The autonomias were never responsible for that building, since, as they
said, "we did not make it, and it was the government who left it like

A Persecuted Municipality

At 2 in the afternoon, Marcos Gonzalez Gonzalez abandoned the municipal
seat and set out on foot for the town of Oventic, eluding the Public
Security checkpoints. 

At 6 in the afternoon, accompanied by other members of the Autonomous
Municipal government, he appeared in front of the press in Oventic.
Nonethless, he was the only one who did not speak. 

There, Miguel, a member of the Autonomous Council, his face covered by a
scarf, stated:  "The autonomia authorities have always been resolving
problems in the municipal building." 

It would appear that he did not know that he and his companions had been
invisible all this time.  He heard about this today upon reading the
communique from the government offices in Tuxtla, which confirmed
Secretary Moscoso Zenteno's opinion:  they had never been seen, nor heard.
They had never been in the buildings from which they were dislocated by
public forces.  One more job for Albores ghost-hunts. 

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